ISLAMABAD - Talks between Pakistan and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the seventh review under extended fund facility have started on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar.

“The team will be in Doha during May 18-25 as part of ongoing discussions with the Pakistani authorities on economic developments and policies to promote macroeconomic stability”, said IMF’s Resident Representative for Pakistan, Esther Perez Ruiz. Meanwhile, according to the ministry of finance, Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, Miftah Ismail held a virtual meeting with IMF Mission’s chief. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Finance & Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha, Finance secretary, State Bank of Pakistan’s governor, and Federal Board of Revenue’s chairman.

The first batch of the senior management of Finance Division, State Bank of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue has already reached Doha for the 7th Review Mission. Finance minister and minister of state will be joining the team at Doha early next week to conclude the discussion with the expectation to clinch an agreement for IMF’s continued support until the successful completion of the programme.

Finance minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to undertake the reforms envisaged under the programme and to complete the structural benchmarks. IMF Mission Chief,   Nathan Porter shared with the minister for Finance & Revenue, IMF’s assessment of the challenges facing the economy. He sensitised that Pakistan’s economy demanded both immediate and long-term measures.

Finance minister stated that the government understood the current economic woes and agreed that it would have to take tough decisions while mitigating the effects of inflation on the middle to low-income groups. He emphasized that few of the factors that had adversely affected the economic situation were beyond the control of the government. These included exogenous factors like supply shocks, commodity super cycle and Russia-Ukraine conflict, due to which commodity prices further soared. These factors were putting pressure on Current Account as well as foreign exchange reserves. The minister stated that the government would take measures to reduce the burden on the economy while protecting the vulnerable sections of the population. The minister further stated that we should aim to address structural issues so that Pakistan should be able to end its fiscal deficit and move towards sustainable growth.

| Islamabad will try to convince IMF on subsidy given on petroleum products, electricity

The finance minister thanked the IMF Mission’s chief for support of IMF at a difficult time for global economy. Both sides showed keen interest to complete the review successfully.

According to the officials, the government would try to convince the IMF on the subsidy given on petroleum products and electricity. The coalition government is not increasing petroleum products and electricity prices despite massive increase in oil prices in international market.  Pakistan would receive around one billion dollars from the Fund if the talks remain successful. In last month, the IMF had agreed to increase the size of its $6 billion loan programme by $2 billion, and extend it for another year to prop up Pakistan’s balance of payments position and foreign exchange reserves. Pakistan had asked the IMF to enhance its bailout package from the remaining $3 billion to $5 billion. Pakistan and IMF would also discuss the upcoming budget, which would be announced in first or second week of next month (June). “Both sides will finalise the salient features of the next budget especially in broadening of tax collection of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for next fiscal year,” they said.