KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bailout deal for the country would “hopefully be completed this month” after approval from the lender’s board since Pakistan had fulfilled all the prerequisites for the release of the $1.1 billion tranche.
The prime minister speaking at the meeting of federal cabinet ahead of budget presentation hoped that the IMF program would be secured within current month before its expiry by end June.
Sharif’s issued the statement while presiding over the meeting of his cabinet right ahead of the announcement of the country’s federal budget for the next fiscal year.
The cash-strapped country is presenting its budget at a time when it is in desperate need of bailout funds from the IMF to shore up its foreign currency reserves which are barely enough to cover a month’s imports. The IMF’s ninth review, which was part of the $6.5 billion program for Pakistan signed in 2019, has been stalled since November last year.
“We not only accepted all conditions [of the IMF] but have also implemented the prior actions required from us. But still, the staff-level agreement has not been signed, so the matter will now go to the IMF’s board for a review,” Sharif said during a speech before his cabinet ahead of the announcement of the budget on Friday.
“We must hope that, as we have fulfilled all the conditions, the IMF’s ninth review will be completed this month after seeking approval from the lender’s board.”
The Pakistani prime minister added that he had recently spoken to the managing director of the global lender over the phone and had asked her for “verbal” assurances regarding the release of the funds.
“I suggested to her that if she provided me with a verbal commitment [regarding the signing of the agreement], we would take a few more steps the lender had asked for. Once we received the verbal commitment from her, we took those steps too, so now, no other [requirements] are left that could turn out to be an impediment in signing this deal.”
The PM reiterated that while fulfilling the IMF conditions, friendly countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), came to Pakistan’s rescue for which he was immensely grateful.
“They helped a lot by sending $3 billion to us in a timely manner, $2 billion by KSA, and $1 billion by the UAE.”
The premier pointed out political stability was vital for the country’s economic growth, adding that the state and all its institutions were working together to move in that direction to strengthen Pakistan financially.
“Without political stability the wheel of the economy can’t move forward,” he said.
He also maintained the government was aware of the suffering of people who were forced to deal with spiraling inflation.
“We have to take care of the salaried class and the pensioners whose income have been eroded by inflation,” the prime minister added.