Wednesday, January 24, 2024
ISLAMABAD: A review mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is likely to be dispatched to conduct talks with Islamabad after Pakistan's much anticipated general elections, scheduled to be held on February 8.
The review mission is set to visit Pakistan for talks regarding the $3 billion Standby Arrangement (SBA) programme, The News reported.
According to a confirmation received by The News from top official sources, the "Fund has not yet confirmed the exact schedule for conducting the second review, so the upcoming review talks are expected to be held after the general elections".
In its latest staff report, the IMF also hinted that the date of the second review was revised at the time of the signing of the SBA agreement in July 2023. The second review for the end of December 2023 was planned for March 1, 2024.
Now the Pakistani side proposed the review schedule for March 15, 2024, indicating that the review completion date was changed with the possibility that talks for a second review might be held after the February 8, 2024 elections.
The existing SBA programme of the IMF is scheduled to be accomplished on April 12, 2024. In case the second review is completed till mid of March, then the Fund’s Executive Board would have sufficient time to approve the last tranche of $1.1 billion for Pakistan by the second of April 2024.
It is not known how the transition from the SBA to another medium-term programme would happen when there would be a political transition in Pakistan.
Earlier, there were reports that the mainstream political parties had asked to accomplish the second review during the tenure of the caretaker setup. There are still chances that the Fund review might be done before the formation of the new government.
Many insiders believe that after the general elections, the formation of the new government was expected to be accomplished by the end of February, so the IMF review mission might visit Islamabad before the formation of the new government and complete the second review.
In April 2024, the IMF will again be visiting Pakistan to strike a broader agreement on the fresh medium-term loan programme based on which the next budget for 2024-25 will be formulated. It will be up to the next government whether it will be able to sign the fresh IMF programme before the announcement of the budget or it might be done till the approval of the budget from the upcoming elected parliament.