Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday that Pakistan’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) related to the completion of the ninth review of a $7 billion loan programme were near conclusion and the staff-level agreement with the global lender will be signed by next week.
The government is in a race against time to implement measures to reach an agreement with the IMF as the country has reserves barely enough for three weeks of essential imports, while hotly contested elections are due by November.
In a series of tweets today, the finance czar rubbished rumours regarding Pakistan defaulting.
“Anti-Pakistan elements are spreading malicious rumours that Pakistan may default. This is not only completely false but also belies the facts,” he said.
Dar said that the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) forex reserves had been increasing and were almost near $1 billion, “higher than four weeks ago despite making all external due payments on time”.
“Foreign commercial banks have started extending facilities to Pakistan. Our negotiations with IMF are about to conclude and we expect to sign Staff Level Agreement with IMF by next week. All economic indicators are slowly moving in the right direction,” he added.
The finance minister’s remarks come as the Pakistani rupee sank sharply by Rs18.74 against the dollar in the interbank market today. Analysts attributed the record drop — which is 7.04pc — to the government’s impasse with the global lender.
The agreement with the IMF on the completion of the ninth review of a $7bn loan programme — which has been delayed since late last year over a policy framework — would not only lead to a disbursement of $1.2bn but also unlock inflows from friendly countries.
The prerequisites by the lender are aimed at ensuring Pakistan shrinks its fiscal deficit ahead of its annual budget around June.
Pakistan has already taken most of the other prior actions, which included hikes in fuel and energy tariffs, the withdrawal of subsidies in export and power sectors, and generating more revenues through new taxation in a supplementary budget.