ISLAMABAD: The focus of both International Monetary Fund (IMF) and government of Pakistan is on early disbursement of Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to deal swiftly with the emerging challenges on account of coronavirus (COVID-19), however, commitments to the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme remain intact.

This was stated by IMF Resident Representative in Pakistan Teresa Daban Sanchez while speaking at Aaj TV programme ‘Paisa Bolta Hai’ with Anjum Ibrahim.

 Replying to a question, she said the IMF and Pakistani authorities are working expeditiously for the approval by the Executive Board and disbursement of the RFI to confront the COVID-19 shock. The Pakistani authorities remain committed to the EFF policies and reforms. “The IMF programme is still there and available to Pakistan, but the priority now is RFI,” she added.

“We have a shock [COVID-19], which requires attention and focus but the Pakistani government needs to continue to working on the policies and reforms that are in the EFF programme,” the IMF official added.

She said Pakistan has placed a request for 50 percent of its quota through RFI which is equivalent to around $1.4 billion. The facility provides rapid financial assistance to member countries during unexpected shocks at very low interest rates.

The IMF Executive Board will consider the request for RFI next week as the country needs resources and immediate support, said the IMF official, adding that the financial assistance would be disbursed in one tranche.

Replying to another question, she said the advice to the country is to take measures to deal with the problems that are emerging and affecting the most vulnerable. These may include relaxing some regulations but the recommendation is that these sorts of measures should be temporary.

“We are happy that the government of Pakistan is taking important measures on the fiscal side to support economy and specifically to help those parts of society that are most vulnerable with the launch of Ehsaas programme,” said the IMF official.

She further said the Covid-19 is posing many challenges globally as well as in Pakistan. This new shock has many dimensions but the utmost is how to keep people healthy and protected. Consequences of the COVID-19 are happening and include highly adverse impacts on international trade and economic activities, the IMF official added.