Pakistan eyes new IMF loan by early July, says finance minister - GulfToday

Pakistan eyes new IMF loan by early July, says finance minister


Muhammad Aurangzeb holds talks with top officials and investors in Dubai.

Gulf Today Staff Reporter / Reuters

Pakistan could secure a staff-level agreement on a new long-term larger loan with the International Monetary Fund by early July, its finance minister said on Tuesday.

The country’s current $3 billion arrangement with the fund -- which it secured last summer to avert a sovereign default -- runs out in late April.

The $350 billion South Asian economy faces  balance of payment crisis. The government is seeking a larger, long-term loan to help stabilise economic activity and financial markets so it can execute long-due, painful structural reforms.

If secured, it would be the 24th IMF bailout for Pakistan. “We are still hoping that we get a staff-level agreement by June or early July,” Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb told a conference in Islamabad.

He returned from Washington last week after leading a team to attend the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings.

“We had very good discussions in Washington,” he said. He said he did not know at this stage the volume and tenure of the longer programme, although he has previously said that he was looking for at least a three-year bailout plan.

Both sides have said they were already in discussions for the new loan. A formal request, however, will be made once the current facility expires, with the IMF board likely to meet late this month to approve the second and last tranche of the current support scheme.

The economy is expected to grow by 2.6% in the fiscal year 2024, the finance minister said, adding that the inflation was projected at 24%, down from 29.2% in fiscal 2023. It touched a record high of 38% last May.

Aurangzeb said structural reforms would include increasing the government’s tax revenue-to-GDP ratio to 13% to 14% in next two or three years from the current level of around 9%, reducing losses of state-owned enterprises through their privatization, and better management of the debt-laden energy sector.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Aurangzeb met investors yesterday in Dubai. The meeting focussed on supporting existing economic partnerships and exploring further diversification to include Information technology, renewable energy, transport and logistics, infrastructure, and real estate development.

These investors included Abdulla Bin Lahej, Chairman of Ayana Holding, Dubai and former CEO of Emaar Group, Mohammed Hilal Bin Tarraf Al Mansoori, Chairman Nad Al Shiba Holding, Dubai, Mr Farooq Arjomand, Vice Chairman of Damac Group,  Abdul Ghaffar, MD Mauritius Company interested in investing in Pakistan in Solar and renewable energy projects,  Sheharyar Owner of Fly Jinnah Airlines and Dr Taje. Energy sector investor.

The Federal Minister highlighted the competitive advantages making Pakistan an ideal destination for investors seeking high returns and sustainable growth.


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