ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission is scheduled to arrive in the federal capital today (Wednesday) to discuss terms and conditions of bailout package whose amount is yet to be determined. Finance Minister Asad Umar during his media talks put the original estimate of financing needs of Pakistan for the current fiscal year at $ 12 billion. However, subsequent to $6 billion Saudi assistance – $3 billion for balance of payment support for one year and $3 billion oil import facility on deferred payment annually for three years – the amount requested from the IMF may be much lesser. However, former Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Pasha has projected Pakistan’s financing gap at $18 billion.
China, being a key player in multilaterals and having its own Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has also assured assistance but it probably seeks a roadmap how Pakistan undertakes reforms. This is widely believed that negotiations may not be tough; however, it will depend upon the astuteness of Pakistani economic team dealing with the Fund mission.
A day before the scheduled arrival of the IMF mission, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice G Wells met Finance Minister Asad Umar and discussed the current state of Pak-US relations with focus on economic cooperation.
Sources in the Finance Ministry stated that on prospective IMF loan programme 2018, a meeting was held in Finance Ministry on October 26, 2018 to deliberate upon potential policy reforms which may come under discussion with a forthcoming IMF mission and which could also be incorporated in the 2018 Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP). The representative of relevant ministries and divisions are said to have attended the meeting to discuss the potential policy reforms.
Dr Pasha suggested the economic team to present its home-grown own reforms programme to the IMF mission so as to give them the feeling that this time government is fully responsible and sincere about reforms in various sectors of the economy.
He said that the government has already implemented tough decisions of increasing gas and electricity prices and depreciation of exchange rate. The privatisation policy has already been made public, so now there should be no difficulty in negotiations with the IMF, he added.