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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that its mission will visit Islamabad at the end of this month to continue discussions under the ninth Extended Fund Facility (EFF) review.

“At the request of the authorities, an in-person Fund mission is scheduled to visit Islamabad January 31–February 9,” IMF Resident Representative in Pakistan Esther Pérez Ruiz told Business Recorder via message.

“The mission will focus on policies to restore domestic and external sustainability, including to strengthen the fiscal position with durable and high quality measures while supporting the vulnerable and those affected by the floods; restore the viability of the power sector and reverse the continued accumulation of circular debt; and re-establish the proper functioning of the FX market, allowing the exchange rate to clear the FX shortage,” the IMF official added.

The IMF said stronger policy efforts and reforms are critical to reduce the current elevated uncertainty that weighs in on Pakistan’s economic outlook, strengthen the country’s resilience, and obtain financing support from official partners and the markets that is vital for Pakistan’s sustainable development.

The development comes as Pakistan desperately seeks a revival of the bailout programme at a time when its foreign exchange reserves have depleted to under one month of import cover.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reinforced the government’s wish to complete the IMF programme.

“We have given the IMF a clear message that we want to complete the ninth review. We are ready and want to sit down regarding your conditions so that it (ninth review) can be concluded and Pakistan can move forward,” said the PM in an address.

On Thursday, before the IMF’s statement, the rupee had undergone a severe hammering, falling nearly 10% in the inter-bank market as a ‘free-floating’ exchange rate apparently came into play. The rupee eventually closed at 255.43 against the US dollar, its worst level in history.

Bilal Memon

Bilal Memon is the Head of Digital Content at Business Recorder. His Twitter handle is @bilalahmadmemon

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