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Pak holds talks with IMF delegation on bailout package

Islamabad: Senior Pakistani officials on Wednesday held technical discussions with a visiting IMF delegation for a bailout package to the cash-strapped country. The talks will continue for about a week. Pakistan is seeking USD 8 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail itself out from a severe balance-of-payments crisis that threatens to cripple the country’s economy.

With the generous Chinese assistance, Pakistan has so far received a total of USD 9.1 billion in financial aid packages from friendly countries during the current fiscal year.

Wednesday’s talks came days after Prime Minister Imran Khan met IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Beijing. The IMF delegation, which arrived in Islamabad on Monday, is expected to conclude the technical details of the proposed loan by May 6. The proposed bailout package is expected to range between USD 7 billion and USD 8 billion, Geo News reported.

The Pakistani delegation was led by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, and includes three additional secretaries and a senior joint secretary from the Finance Ministry.

Secretaries from the power and petroleum divisions, and the chairmen of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan also participated in the talks. Prime Minister Khan met IMF Director Lagarde on Friday last week on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. During the meeting, they agreed on the importance of the IMF programme for the country and reviewed the relationship between Pakistan and the global lender, the report said.

Khan had identified areas of reforms and initiatives being undertaken by his government to stabilise the economy, control inflation and achieve fiscal balance. They also agreed on the need for a social safety net for vulnerable groups of the society.

“We discussed prospects for a comprehensive policy package and international financial support to help stabilise the economy of Pakistan, and also the need to strengthen governance and protect the poor,” Lagarde said in a post after the meeting.

Pakistan wants the IMF to focus on the long-term structural reforms that help revive its economy instead of attaching conditions that would be difficult to implement.