Moody’s Investors Service warned that Pakistan could default without an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout as the country faces uncertain financing options beyond June, reported Bloomberg on Tuesday.
“We consider that Pakistan will meet its external payments for the remainder of this fiscal year ending in June,” Grace Lim, a sovereign analyst with the ratings company in Singapore, was quoted as saying in an emailed response to Bloomberg.
“However, Pakistan’s financing options beyond June are highly uncertain. Without an IMF programme, Pakistan could default given its very weak reserves.”
The remarks come as Pakistan remains engaged with the Washington-based lender to resume its bailout programme that has been stalled at the ninth review since November last year.
Various measures including a floating exchange rate, additional taxes, and hike in energy tariffs have failed to convince the IMF to resume the bailout.
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Instead, the IMF reiterated that it is working with Pakistani authorities to bring the pending ninth review to a conclusion “once the necessary financing is in place and the agreement is finalised”.
Pakistan has secured nearly half of its necessary financing after its officials said Saudi Arabia and UAE have pledged to provide a combined $3 billion.
However, the amounts are yet to be deposited in the country’s central bank, and its official foreign exchange reserves still stand at a precarious level.
Pakistan has been faced with a barrage of woes in recent months with the perceived default risk and downgrade by international ratings agencies reflecting the state of the economy that has also had to bear major political turmoil and frequent change in key leadership.
Engagement with IMF beyond June
An engagement with the IMF beyond June would support additional financing from other multilateral and bilateral partners, which could reduce default risk, said Lim.
S&P Global Ratings said Pakistan’s gross external financing needs as a proportion of current-account receipts plus usable reserves is estimated to rise to 139.5% in the fiscal year 2024 from 133% in 2023, added the Bloomberg report.
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“We consider the IMF programme to be a foundation for important fiscal policy reforms,” Andrew Wood, a sovereign analyst at S&P in Singapore, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “Agreement on the current review cycle could also coalesce more confidence for other bilateral and multilateral lenders to Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Monday sought the support of the IMF board to break the deadlock over the revival of the $6.5 billion loan programme as the delay is costing dearly in the shape of economic and reputational loss to the government.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar held a virtual meeting with IMF Executive Director Bahador Bijani. Dar sought his support to persuade the IMF management to sign a staff-level agreement with Pakistan, sources in the Ministry of Finance told The Express Tribune.