Pakistan met IMF performance benchmarks, economy getting better – Hafeez Shaikh

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh holds a meeting with IMF Mission Team led by Ernesto Ramirez Rigo on the conclusion of IMF Mission review at Islamabad on Nov. 8, 2019. (PID)
Updated 09 November 2019

Pakistan met IMF performance benchmarks, economy getting better – Hafeez Shaikh

  • Pakistan and the IMF reach staff-level agreement for $450 million second loan tranche
  • The Fund believes signs of economic stability are gradually beginning to emerge on the macroeconomic front

KARACHI: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the first economic review of the country under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), said Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, in a Twitter post on Friday, adding that the international financial institution acknowledged that the country had met all performance benchmarks by significant margins.
“Positive for Pakistan!” Shaikh tweeted. “IMF Mission concludes successfully. IMF confirms that Pakistan met all First Quarter Performance Criteria by good margins and economy continuing to get better. Thank you PM and the entire team!”
Pakistan and the IMF also announced on Friday they had reached a staff-level agreement on the basis of the economic review, clearing the way for the second tranche of $450 million.
“The agreement is subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board of Directors,” Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, the IMF mission chief to Pakistan, said in a statement. “Completion of the review will enable disbursement of SDR328 million (or around $ 450 million) and will help unlock significant funding from bilateral and multilateral partners.”

The IMF team was visiting the country to review progress on the $6 billion bailout program extended in July this year to stabilize the wobbling economy of the South Asian nation.
Pakistan had received the first tranche of $995 million in July 2019 following the implementation of prior actions that Islamabad agreed to as part of the conditions attached to the bailout program.
The fund acknowledged that Islamabad had met all performance criteria set for end-September with comfortable margins and progress continued toward meeting all structural benchmarks.
“Despite a difficult environment, program implementation has been good, and all performance criteria for end-September were met with comfortable margins. Work continues toward completing the remaining structural benchmarks for end-September,” Rigo said.
“Significant progress has been made in improving the AML/CFT [Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Terrorism Financing] framework, although additional work is needed before March 2020. International partners remain committed to supporting the authorities’ reform efforts, providing the necessary financing assurances.”, he added.
The IMF observed that signs of economic stability were gradually beginning to emerge on the macroeconomic front. It added that the external position was strengthening, underpinned by an orderly transition to a flexible, market-determined exchange rate by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and a higher-than-expected increase in the SBP’s net international reserves.
“Budgetary revenue collections are growing on the back of efforts on tax administration and policy changes, and despite the ongoing compression in import-related taxes,” Rigo said.
According to the IMF mission chief, inflation pressures are expected to recede soon, reflecting an appropriate monetary stance. Importantly, measures to strengthen the social safety net are being implemented, and development spending is being prioritized.
The mission chief at the concluding meeting of the review met with the government team, led by Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, and praised the “government for introducing far reaching economic reforms in a challenging environment,” the finance ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The IMF mission will arrive in Pakistan early next year to conduct the next program review.


Pakistani victims in fatal Madinah bus crash identified, says foreign office

Updated 13 min 19 sec ago

Pakistani victims in fatal Madinah bus crash identified, says foreign office

  • Bodies of 10 Pakistani nationals recognized through DNA samples gathered by Saudi authorities
  • Charred remains of the deceased Pakistani pilgrims buried in the Kingdom

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Thursday that the DNA verification process for all of the country’s pilgrims killed in last month’s fatal road crash while they were traveling from Riyadh to Makkah was done and their bodies had been buried in Saudi Arabia.
“Ten Pakistanis have been identified” after a rigorous process of trying to ascertain identities through “DNA matching,” the foreign office spokesman, Dr. Muhammed Faisal, told Arab News.
Explaining the hardships involved in the process, he said: “The bus driver who had a list also died and the passengers’ record was burnt.”
Investigators “traced a copy of the passengers’ list” from the relevant bus company which helped collect the data on the number of passengers, including all Pakistanis onboard, “but they were still unable to identify the corpses and required families of the deceased to help identify the victims.”
The foreign office has not revealed the identities of the Pakistanis until now, though it says “details will soon be released.”
It may be recalled that the bus caught fire after the accident and the charred bodies of passengers were found to be beyond recognition.
A team of Pakistani officials with the help of Saudi authorities worked tirelessly to identify all the victims, collecting DNA samples of the deceased pilgrims to ascertain their exact identifies.
“None of the bodies of the Pakistani victims were brought back to the country. It’s likely that all of them were buried there [in Saudi Arabia],” the spokesman said.