IMF says Pakistan needs to mobilize tax revenue, cut debt

Khan’s government, like many of its predecessors, has been forced to turn to the IMF to prevent a balance-of-payments crisis. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 22 July 2019

IMF says Pakistan needs to mobilize tax revenue, cut debt

  • Khan’s government faces mounting pressure as rising prices and tough austerity policies

WASHINGTON: Pakistan needs to mobilize domestic tax revenue to ensure funds for social and development programs, while reducing debt, the acting director of the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday after a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The two officials discussed recent economic developments and implementation of Pakistan’s IMF-supported economic reforms, which are aimed at stabilizing the economy, strengthening institutions and paving the way for sustainable and balanced growth, David Lipton said in a statement.
Khan’s government faces mounting pressure as rising prices and tough austerity policies under Pakistan’s latest bailout from the IMF are squeezing the middle class that helped carry it to power.
Lipton said the IMF and other international partners were working closely with the Pakistani government to support implementation of the reforms.
“I highlighted the need to mobilize domestic tax revenue now and on into the future to provide reliably for needed social and development spending, while placing debt on a firm downward trend,” Lipton said in a statement after the meeting.
Khan, who arrived in Washington on Sunday, is due to meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday. Trump is likely to press Khan for help on ending the war in Afghanistan and fighting militants.
Last year, Trump cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of offering “nothing but lies and deceit” while giving safe haven to terrorists, a charge angrily rejected by Islamabad.
In recent years, import-led consumption has propped up growth in Pakistan and helped hide the problems of an economy riddled with inefficiency and without a strong export base.
But Khan’s government, like many of its predecessors, has been forced to turn to the IMF to prevent a balance-of-payments crisis.
Economic growth, which reached 5.5% in the fiscal year to June 2018, is expected to slow to 2.4% this financial year, according to IMF estimates, barely enough to keep pace with the growth in a population that now numbers 208 million.


Barclays sees $2 per barrel impact to oil prices as coronavirus fears threaten demand

Updated 35 min 36 sec ago

Barclays sees $2 per barrel impact to oil prices as coronavirus fears threaten demand

  • More than 100 people have died and over 4,000 cases of the new virus have been confirmed in China
  • Barclays expects the OPEC and other allies to step in and take further measures to keep the markets tight

BENGALURU: Barclays said on Tuesday oil prices will be impacted by $2 per barrel on the potential economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak in China.
More than 100 people have died and over 4,000 cases of the new virus have been confirmed in China, leading authorities to increase preventive measures, impose travel restrictions and also extend the Lunar New Year holidays to limit the spread of the virus.
The bank sees a $2 per barrel downside to their full-year Brent and WTI forecasts of $62 per barrel and $57 per barrel, respectively.
Compounding the effects of the spillover to economic growth from China and the region, Barclays expects transitory oil demand erosion of about 0.6-0.8 million barrels per day (mb/d) in the first quarter of this year, or 0.2 mb/d for the full year.
“If air passenger traffic in China declined by half in first quarter of 2020, it would likely lead to a 300,000 barrels per day year on year decline in jet-kerosene demand from China,” the bank said adding the fall in road transport would likely be less severe than in the past given reduced reliance on buses.
Barclays expects the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other allies to step in and take further measures to keep the markets tight, in case the fall in demand is more acute.
Oil prices have been down for the last six sessions, but the bank said that the market reaction was likely overdone.
Barclays said the actual economic fallout from the coronavirus could be less severe than the 2003 SARS outbreak, given that the new virus seems less lethal than SARS so far and the measures taken by Chinese authorities.
The bank said the geopolitical risks to global supplies remain high as US-Iran tensions could continue to gradually escalate and oil production in Libya could fall further if the blockade of key infrastructure facilities continues.
Brent crude prices are currently trading around $59 per barrel and US WTI at around at $53 per barrel.