The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is displayed outside its headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2022. — AFP

Rebutting claims that Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached a deadlock, the lender clarified that it is in touch with Islamabad to pave the way for a board meeting before the $6.5 billion bailout programme expires, Reuters reported.

“IMF staff continues the engagement with the Pakistani authorities to pave the way for a board meeting before the current program expires in end-June,” IMF Mission Chief for Pakistan Nathan Porter said.

A board meeting on a review of the programme usually requires a prior staff-level agreement — which will also unlock $1.1 billion in financing for the cash-strapped nation as part of a $6.5 billion IMF package.

It should be noted that the staff-level agreement has been delayed since November, with more than 100 days gone since the last staff-level mission to Pakistan, the longest such delay since at least 2008.

Porter said: “This engagement will focus on the restoration of foreign exchange proper market functioning, the passage of a federal budget consistent with programme goals, and adequate financing”.

On Sunday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan will share its budget details with the fund. He added that he would like the IMF to clear its ninth review before the budget, which is due to be presented in early June, as all the conditions for that had already been met.

“They have asked for some more things again, we are ready to give that too, they say that give us budget details, we will give it to them,” Dar said in an interview with Geo News.

Regarding the next reviews, he said it would not work for Pakistan if the IMF combined the ninth and tenth reviews of the bailout, adding, “We will not do it, (we) see this is (as) unfair.”

Porter said that broadly speaking, “overcoming the present economic and financial challenges would require sustained policy efforts and reforms for Pakistan to regain strong and inclusive private-led growth”.

While the IMF does not comment on domestic politics, Porter said the Fund hopes “a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and the rule of law,” referring to Pakistan’s political instability.

— Additional input from Reuters 

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