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Print Print 2023-07-13

Expectedly, IMF board approves $3bn 9-mth SBA

  • The Board’s approval allows for immediate disbursement of about US$1.2 billion
Published July 13, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’ Executive Board on Wednesday approved a nine-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for Pakistan for an amount of $3 billion. The Board’s approval allows for immediate disbursement of SDR894 million (or about US$1.2 billion).

The Fund stated that Pakistan’s’ economic reform program aims to support immediate efforts to stabilise the economy and guard against shocks while creating the space for social and development spending to help the people of Pakistan.

Steadfast policy implementation will be critical for Pakistan and the success of the program. This will require greater fiscal discipline, a market-determined exchange rate to absorb external pressures, and further progress on reforms related to the energy sector, climate resilience, and the business climate, the Fund added.

IMF Board scheduled to consider $3bn SBA today

After the Board meeting, IMF issued a statement which stated, “the Executive Board of the IMF approved a 9-month SBA for Pakistan for an amount of SDR2,250 million (about $3 billion, or 111 percent of quota) to support the authorities’ economic stabilization program.

The arrangement comes at a challenging economic juncture for Pakistan. A difficult external environment, devastating floods, and policy missteps have led to large fiscal and external deficits, rising inflation, and eroded reserve buffers in fiscal year 2023.

Pakistan’s new SBA-supported program will provide a policy anchor for addressing domestic and external imbalances and a framework for financial support from multilateral and bilateral partners.

The program will focus on (1) implementation of the fiscal year 2024 budget to facilitate Pakistan’s needed fiscal adjustment and ensure debt sustainability, while protecting critical social spending; (2) a return to a market-determined exchange rate and proper FX market functioning to absorb external shocks and eliminate FX shortages; (3) an appropriately tight monetary policy aimed at disinflation; and (4) further progress on structural reforms, particularly with regard to energy sector viability, SOE governance, and climate resilience.

The Executive Board’s approval allows for an immediate disbursement of SDR894 million (or about US$1.2 billion). The remaining amount will be phased over the program’s duration, subject to two quarterly reviews“.

Following the Executive Board discussion, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director and Chair, made the following statement:

“Pakistan’s economy was hit hard by significant shocks last year, notably the spillovers from the severe impacts of floods, the large volatility in commodity prices, and the tightening of external and domestic financing conditions. These factors together with uneven policy implementation under the EFF combined to halt the post-pandemic recovery, sharply increase inflation, and significantly depleted internal and external buffers. The authorities’ new Stand-By Arrangement, implemented faithfully, offers Pakistan an opportunity to regain macroeconomic stability and address these imbalances through consistent policy implementation.”

“The authorities’ FY24 budget, which targets a modest primary surplus, is a welcome step toward fiscal stabilization. The anticipated improvement in tax revenues is critical to strengthen public finances, and to eventually create the fiscal space needed to bolster social and development spending. Maintaining discipline over non-critical primary expenditure will be essential to support budget execution within the envisaged envelope.

In parallel, the authorities urgently need to strengthen energy sector viability by aligning tariffs with costs, reforming the sectors cost base, and better-targeting power subsidies.

Looking beyond this fiscal year, enhanced efforts to expand the tax base and improve public financial management, including in the delivery of quality infrastructure, are needed and increase progressivity and efficiency.“

“The recent increase in the policy rate by the SBP is appropriate given the very high inflationary pressures, which disproportionately impact the most vulnerable. A continued tight, proactive, and data-driven monetary policy is warranted going forward.

A market-determined exchange rate is also critical to absorbing external shocks, reducing external imbalances, and restoring growth, competitiveness, and buffers. Close oversight of the banking system and decisive action to address undercapitalized financial institutions would support financial stability.“

“Accelerating structural reforms to build climate resilience, enhance safety nets, strengthen governance, including of state-owned enterprises, and improve the business environment by creating a level-playing-field for investment and trade are necessary for job creation and raising inclusive growth.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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Ghazanfar Ali Jul 13, 2023 08:46am
What is our policy to return these loans and there interest? Right now it seem like to get more loans or selling our assets. In both cases we are heading toward disaster.
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Yaseen Jul 13, 2023 09:25am
@Ghazanfar Ali, More taxes on the salaried class and increase is indirect taxes. simple.
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Tulukan Mairandi Jul 13, 2023 09:39am
Digging ourselves deeper into the pit.
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Ghazanfar Ali Jul 13, 2023 10:45am
@Yaseen, more taxes on salaries class will not resolve this issue. We have to return loans in USD. More taxes will only benefit corrupt Pakistan elite to enjoy unlimited benefits but in repaying loan it will not help.
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zaroon Jul 13, 2023 11:35pm
The way they are celebrating the debt is alarming. Establishment has no issue whosoever become a king, they will remain king maker and get chunk of the budget under their belt. That's what causing Pakistan. There is no merit. They just need to fill in the seats with corrupt people. Nation will suffer once again.
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