- IMF funding is crucial for country facing a balance-of-payments crisis
There has been no official communication confirming any sort of progress on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme amid widespread speculation by various media houses and international news agencies suggesting that a consensus has been reached between the Washington-based lender and Pakistan authorities.
Earlier, reports suggested that the two sides had reached a consensus on pending issues to resume the much-needed bailout programme.
However, no official communication has yet been made even though reports claimed that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was due to hold a late-night press conference for the much-awaited resumption of the programme.
The IMF package is crucial for Pakistan facing a balance-of-payments crisis.
The IMF mission has been in Islamabad since January 31 to conclude the ninth review of the economy and unlock the next tranche of its loan. It was looking to sort out concerns over fiscal policy that have stalled the release of more than $1 billion from a $6.5 billion bailout package signed in 2019.
Speculation had been rife on Thursday after Dar gave remarks in passing, saying negotiations between Pakistan and the Fund were "on track" and “we will announce good news soon.”
On Wednesday, Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha had said that some understanding was reached with the IMF and some clearance had been secured at the prime minister level.
While talking to reporters on the second day of policy-level talks with the fund, the minister acknowledged that the IMF wanted more clearance on some issues.
Pasha said discussions with the IMF were moving in a positive direction and the government’s entire focus during the negotiations has been on protecting the common man.
Meanwhile, foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) have dropped $170 million to a mere $2.92 billion, data released on Thursday showed. This is the lowest level of reserves since February 2014.