ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday the country’s ongoing talks with a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation were “on track” and about to conclude as the two sides negotiate for the resumption of a stalled loan program that would help the country secure the next tranche of $1.1 billion.
Pakistan faces a crippling dollar liquidity crunch amid the rapid depletion of its official foreign currency reserves which currently stand at $3 billion. The situation has even forced the government to restrict the import of essential items, including medical equipment and industrial raw material, which has had a negative impact on the overall economy.
The resumption of the IMF loan is expected to ease the situation while making other bilateral and multilateral sources of funding available to the country.
The two sides have been negotiating since the beginning of the month, though the visiting IMF mission is yet to share the initial draft of the Memorandum of Economic and Fiscal Policies (MEFP), a key document indicating a movement toward a likely agreement, with the government.
Amid the ongoing talks with the global money lender, Dar mentioned satisfactory progress while promising to announce “good news” soon.
“The progress [in the final round of talks] with the IMF is satisfactory and things are on track,” the finance minister told reporters in Islamabad. “Hopefully, the negotiations will conclude today.”
Pakistan’s state minister for finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha also indicated the government was expecting to reach an understanding with the global lender soon.
While the economic reforms currently under discussion between the two sides are likely to put a significant burden on low-income segments, Pasha said the government was trying to protect the vulnerable segments of society from further financial burden amid record inflation.
Pakistan’s national currency has also recovered some of its losses since Wednesday amid hopes for an IMF staff-level agreement.