Pakistan, IMF close to reaching deal on bailout





Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar said negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reached its final stage with settlement of almost all issues related to a bailout package.

“We are very close to each other and there is no fundamental difference,” the minister was quoted as saying by Geo News while addressing the media on Monday after the launch of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) Regulations.

“Similarly, the main issue of how to reduce current account deficit had also been sorted out. Now there was no issue with unbridgeable differences,” Umar said.

The Finance Minister noted that the talks were held to resolve issues related to the timing and sequence of the signing of an agreement with the IMF.

The Minister said that the IMF programme usually lasted for three years and it would disburse loan to Pakistan in three tranches.

“If the IMF sanctioned USD six billion package, Pakistan would get USD two billion during the current year and in case USD nine billion, it would receive USD three billion as first tranche,” he added.

After the agreement is signed with IMF, Pakistan would be able to get more funds from the international bond market, Umar said.

The Minister recalled that previously, Saudi Arabia had disbursed a total amount of USD three billion, China had transferred a commercial loan of USD two billion, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remitted USD two billion, as an aid to the debt-ridden country.

IMF mission Chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo arrived on a maiden visit to Islamabad on March 26.

Quoting sources, ARY News reported that Pakistan intended to seek for a loan worth USD six to USD eight billion from IMF. However, a final agreement between the two is expected to finalise when the IMF and the World Bank holds a session in April in Washington.

Geo News confirmed that Pakistan’s consumer price inflation rose to 9.41 per cent year-on-year, up from 8.21 per cent in February, after citing a data released by the Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

Last week, Pakistan’s Central Bank lifted its key policy rate by 50 basis points to 10.75 per cent, citing continuing inflationary pressures as well as high fiscal and current account deficits.

Consumer price inflation has jumped sharply over the past year, climbing from under four per cent at the start of 2018, lifted by sharp rises in food, fuel and transport costs that have squeezed household budgets.

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