- IMF and Finance Division have yet to agree on starting date for negotiations
ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Finance Division have yet to agree on the starting date for negotiations on the ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme, as the government has not yet finalized the economic framework, a Fund requirement.
This was confirmed by well-placed sources in the Finance Division while responding to a query from Business Recorder; they further acknowledged that some policy slippages on the part of the government may be another factor in the delay.
A Finance Ministry official further told this correspondent that there are differences in GDP projections between the Planning Ministry and Finance Division after inculcation of post floods data. The Planning Ministry is reportedly insisting on 2.3 percent growth while Finance Division is insisting on 2.8 percent, said the official.
This correspondent sought confirmation from Esther Perez Ruiz, IMF resident representative in Pakistan, about the start date for negotiations on the ninth review. She did not respond directly to the query and instead stated: “The IMF remains engaged with the authorities under the current program to support their endeavour to provide relief to the vulnerable affected by the floods, advance reconstruction efforts, while ensuring sustainable policies.”
Sources in the Finance Division said talks on the ninth review are now expected in the last week of the current month, but acknowledged that no date has yet been set.
Business Recorder sent questions to the IMF resident representative in Pakistan as well as the Fund media team in Washington with respect to missing the revenue target in October 2022 as well as the recent announcement of a Rs 1,800 billion special package for the agriculture sector, however no response has been received so far.
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar soon after taking oath on 28 September announced that negotiations with the IMF team on the ninth review will begin on 25 October, however during a press conference on 13 October Jihad Azour, IMF’s Director of Middle East and Central Asia Department, stated that the Fund will be fielding a mission in November to Pakistan for the next review.
As per the IMF seventh, and eighth review documents, uploaded on the website end September 2022, the ninth review was scheduled for November 3, 2022.
The executive board approved the sixth review on February 2, 2022, following discussions that ended on November 18, 2021, with the officials of Pakistan – the time lapse attributed to the delay in meeting the “prior” conditions.
According to the staff report released after approval of sixth review the proposed schedule for seventh review was March 4, 2022 and June 3, 2022 for eighth review. However, the IMF executive board approved the seventh and eighth review under the EFF on August 29, following discussions that ended on May 25th 2022 – the delay again attributable to delay in meeting the ‘prior’ conditions.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022