Pakistan’s last hope: IMF team in Islamabad for talks to unlock crucial $7 billion bailout read full article at

NEW DELHI: Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) officers landed in Islamabad on Tuesday to start talks with the Pakistan authorities geared toward releasing essential funds from a $7 billion bailout which were stalled since November.
Unlocking the funding is crucial for Pakistan, which has sufficient overseas reserves to cowl simply three weeks’ value of imports. Gasoline includes the majority of the import invoice.

Pakistan secured a $6 billion IMF bailout in 2019, which was topped up with one other $1 billion final 12 months. That is the IMF’s ninth evaluate of its Prolonged Fund Facility, which is supposed to assist international locations dealing with a balance-of-payment disaster.
The IMF has set a number of situations for resuming talks on the bailout, together with a market-determined alternate price for the native forex and an easing of gasoline subsidies.
Pakistan takes a number of steps to safe IMF bailout:

  • Finance minister Ishaq Dar met IMF Pakistan mission chief Nathan Porter and briefed him on the “fiscal and economic reforms and measures being taken by the government in different sectors”.
  • Final week, Pakistan eliminated a man-made cap on the rupee, leading to 20% lack of its worth in opposition to the US greenback till Monday.
  • It additionally raised gasoline costs by 16%, saying the rise was in response to larger international power prices.
  • The central financial institution has additionally raised rates of interest this month by 100 foundation factors to battle document excessive inflation, which is anticipated to be at 24%-26% in January.
  • For months, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held out in opposition to tax rises and subsidy slashing demanded by the IMF, terrified of backlash forward of elections due in October.
  • However in current days, with the prospect of nationwide chapter looming and no pleasant international locations prepared to supply much less painful bailouts, Islamabad has began to bow to stress.

Pakistan has lower than $3.7 billion within the state financial institution — sufficient to cowl simply three weeks of imports.
It’s now not issuing letters of credit score, aside from important meals and medicines, inflicting a backlog of 1000’s of transport containers at Karachi port full of inventory the nation can now not afford.

Meals and gasoline scarcity
Business has been hammered by the imports block and large rupee devaluation. Public building tasks have halted, textiles factories have partially shut down and home funding has slowed.

In downtown Karachi, dozens of day labourers together with carpenters and painters wait with their instruments on show for work that by no means comes.
“The number of beggars has increased and the number of labourers has decreased,” mentioned 55-year-old mason Zafar Iqbal, who was consuming biryani from a plastic bag donated by a passerby.
On the petrol pump, a widow together with her son mentioned each few hundred rupees (75 cents) of gasoline for his or her bike was valuable, with the pair solely consuming two meals a day.

“The cost is so high that we eat our breakfast late and the second meal at around seven, with nothing in between,” mentioned Ulfat, who declined to present her second title.
Pakistan is struggling on many fronts, with the nation reeling from unprecedented floods that submerged a 3rd of its territory final summer season and a deteriorating safety state of affairs close to the Afghanistan border.

Final week, the entire nation was plunged right into a day-long blackout due to a fault within the nationwide grid that adopted a cost-cutting measure.
Exterior debt
Pakistan is locked in an limitless cycle of servicing exterior debt.
State financial institution governor Jamil Ahmed final month had mentioned the nation owed $33 billion in loans and different overseas funds earlier than the tip of the fiscal 12 months in June.
A diplomatic offensive has seen $4 billion rolled over by lending nations, with $8.3 billion nonetheless on the negotiating desk.
Political chaos
The tumbling financial system mirrors the nation’s political chaos, with former PM Imran Khan pressuring the ruling coalition to name for early elections.
Khan, who was ousted final 12 months in a no-confidence movement, negotiated the multi-billion-dollar mortgage package deal from the IMF in 2019.
However he reneged on guarantees to chop subsidies and market interventions that had cushioned the cost-of-living disaster, inflicting the programme to stall.
It’s a widespread sample in Pakistan, the place most individuals reside in rural poverty, with greater than two dozen IMF offers brokered after which damaged over the many years.

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