Wednesday, May 31, 2023
ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Finance and Revenue Aisha Ghaus Pasha Wednesday slammed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for "intervening" in Pakistan's internal matters.
"Pakistan’s conduct is in line with the law,” the state minister said, terming IMF Mission Chief for Pakistan Nathan Porter’s statement — regarding the political situation in Pakistan — “extraordinary”.
While the IMF does not comment on domestic politics, Porter had said that the Fund hopes "a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and the rule of law.”
Hoping that both sides will reach a staff-level agreement before the announcement of the federal budget — expected to be unveiled on June 9 — for the fiscal year 2023-24, the state minister said that the delay is neither good for Pakistan nor the Fund.
Dr Pasha confirmed reports that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif contacted IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, adding that the premier assured the fund’s chief that Pakistan will meet all its obligations.
On May 27, PM Shehbaz contacted Georgieva, requesting her to help Pakistan revive the stalled $6.5 billion facility.
PM Shehbaz — according to the sources — requested her to intervene in order to complete the pending ninth review — which would unlock $1.1 billion in financing for the cash-strapped nation.
The coalition government has been negotiating with the Washington-based lender to revive its bailout programme since November, with the financing gap among the biggest roadblocks. There’s about $2.7 billion left to disburse from the $6.5 billion programme that’s scheduled to expire next month.
The minister, in response to a question regarding Pakistan’s plan of action in case it fails to convince the fund before the expiry of the programme — June 30 — said: “The Ministry of Finance is not sitting with its eyes closed, there is always a Plan B but our priority is to revive the IMF programme.”
Commenting on the upcoming budget, the state minister assured the masses that the finance bill will aim at providing relief to the people as this will be an “election year budget”.
On Sunday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan will share its budget details with the fund. He added that he would like the IMF to clear its ninth review before the budget, which is due to be presented in early June, as all the conditions for that had already been met.
"They have asked for some more things again, we are ready to give that too, they say that give us budget details, we will give it to them," Dar said in an interview with Geo News.
Regarding the next reviews, he said it would not work for Pakistan if the IMF combined the ninth and tenth reviews of the bailout, adding, "We will not do it, (we) see this is (as) unfair."