Thursday, February 02, 2023
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Pakistan-IMF talks: Fund rejects circular debt management plan

IMF has asked Pakistan to raise the electricity tariff by Rs12.50/unit to restrict additional subsidy at Rs335 billion

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar in a meeting with the IMF mission led by Mission Chief Nathan Porter at Finance Division. — Ministry of Finance
Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar in a meeting with the IMF mission led by Mission Chief Nathan Porter at Finance Division. — Ministry of Finance

  • Pakistan-IMF talks underway in Islamabad.
  • FBR has proposed Flood Levy from 1 to 3%
  • Minister says elite to share burden.


ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rejected the circular debt management plan (CDMP) presented by the government and asked the authorities to raise the electricity tariff by Rs12.50 per unit in order to restrict the additional subsidy at Rs335 billion for the current fiscal year, according to a The News report published Thursday.

An IMF mission is currently in Pakistan holding talks on the ninth review that will continue till February 9 after which a staff-level agreement is expected between the two sides.

During the second day of technical-level talks, the Washington-based lender termed the revised CDMP as “unrealistic”, which is based on certain wrong assumptions. So the government will have to bring more changes in its policy prescription to restrict the losses of the cash-bleeding power sector.

The IMF and the Finance Ministry will work out a gap on the fiscal front after which different additional taxation measures will be finalised through the upcoming mini-budget.

Debt management plan

The revised CDMP envisages an increase in the monster of circular debt to the tune of Rs952 billion for the current fiscal year against an earlier projection of Rs1,526 billion.

The government shared its revised plan with the IMF high-ups on Wednesday, which shows the government required an additional subsidy of Rs675 billion despite raising the power tariff in the range of Rs7 per unit through quarterly tariff adjustment in the first two quarters of 2023 and Rs1.64 for the third quarter from June to August.

“The IMF has opposed the certain basis of the revised CDMP and asks the government to raise the tariff in the range of Rs11 to Rs12.50 per unit, so that the requirement of additional subsidy could be reduced to half from its existing levels of Rs675 billion for the current fiscal year,” sources confided to the publication.

The IMF also raised questions on how the government calculated its additional subsidy requirement figure of Rs675 billion for the current fiscal year. The government has understated the exchange rate for calculating the revised CDMP, so with the existing rate the plan would be changed.

According to the report, the newly developed debt management plan seeks to restrict losses of DISCOs to 16.27% on average during the current fiscal year.

The government has envisaged the target to recover Fuel Price Adjustment (FPA) charges deferred last summer to fetch Rs20 billion into the kitty against estimates of Rs65 billion made on the eve of the last summer.

The markup saving due to IPPs stock payment will bring Rs11 billion while the GST and other taxes on a collection basis will help recover Rs18 billion in the current fiscal year.

The circular debt is estimated to hover around Rs2,113 billion till the end of FY2023, including the amount parked in the Power Holding Limited (PHL), Rs765 billion and Rs1,248 billion payables to power producers and Rs100 billion to fuel suppliers.

Mini-budget

On the fiscal front, the government shared its plan for unveiling a mini-budget through a presidential ordinance.

The FBR has proposed Flood Levy from 1% to 3%, imposing another levy to deduct 65% to 70% tax from lofty profits earned by the banking sector through exchange rate manipulation and hiking rates of certain withholding taxes.

The IMF has discussed the possibility of providing an adjuster for flood expenditure but asked the government to take the decision on qualitative taxation measures to bring the primary deficit to make it surplus at a level of 0.2% of GDP equivalent to Rs153 billion for the current financial year.

‘Elite class to share burden’

Talking to journalists, State Minister for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that the cost of power generation was on the higher side while the recovery was less, so the bottom point was crystal clear that the country now could not afford subsidy.

She said the government would not put the burden on common consumers as much as possible but the elite and affluent class would have to contribute by paying the full cost of electricity generation.

She said the Power Division presented its plan to tackle the circular debt. Pakistan and the IMF will continue the technical-level talks in the next couple of days and then afterwards the policy levels will be held to finalise the Memorandum of Financial and Economic Policies (MEFP) document next week, she concluded.