IMF ‘pleased’ with Pakistan but no deal this week. The Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar said on Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was “satisfied” with Pakistan’s actions, but a staff-level agreement could not be signed this week.
“It appears that we are very close to signing the agreement at the staff level, hopefully in the next few days,” Dar said in his address during a seminar titled “Reviving Economic Stability by Strengthening Public Financial Management” at the federal capital city.
However, the finance minister, citing his experience of completing 12 reviews of the “one and only” IMF program completed by Pakistan, shared that “it is taking longer than it should” for Islamabad to complete the pending ninth review.
“I think we owe it to this nation to show seriousness, to deliver and show the world that we can honor sovereign commitments no matter who made them,” Darr said. He also assured that his team is “absolutely committed” to completing the program “to the best” of their abilities.
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While criticizing the Imran Khan-led government, Dar shared the state of the economy when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government left in 2018.
The minister said he was pained to see the economy fall to 47th place in 2022 after Pakistan was projected to join the G20 by the end of 2030.
The financial czar also pointed out that the market capitalization of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) used to be over $100 billion but has fallen to $26 billion in the last few years.
“Another serious issue we need to think about is Pakistan’s debt sustainability,” the finance minister said. He added that it was below $30 trillion in 2018 and has now risen to $55 trillion in 2022.
“As a consequence, this country which had a debt service of less than $2 trillion annually in the fiscal year 2016-17 has risen to over $5 trillion,” Dar said.
“I think that in the last few years we should see what mistakes we have made economically and we should try to correct them as soon as possible,” said the finance minister.
“The agreement with the IMF will not be signed this week”
Later, to a press question, the finance minister said the deal would not be finalized this week.
“A staff-level agreement with the IMF is unlikely this week,” the finance minister said, adding that the Fund was “satisfied” with the actions taken by Pakistan.
When pressed that he had assured that he would attack SLA by this week, Dar replied, “I said a few days, not this week.”