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IMF agreement to be inked next week: Rana Sanaullah

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  • “Govt has fulfilled all requirements of IMF,” the interior minister says.
  • He adds after agreement relief could be passed on to the public.
  • Pakistan and IMF are engaged in tough talks since late January.

ISLAMABAD: With all eyes on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for their final nod, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said the agreement with the lender would be inked formally during next week, Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday.

The two sides are engaged in tough talks to reach a consensus on multiple conditions since late January before signing the deal which also includes external financing from friendly countries.

Sanaullah, addressing a public gathering in Faisalabad, said that the government has fulfilled its all requirements and after the agreement relief could be passed on to the public.

A day earlier, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told Geo News that Pakistan has “fulfilled all the conditions” of the IMF and hoped that the Fund will soon sign the staff-level agreement, paving the way for the release of the $1.1 billion tranche.

Dar said both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have informed the IMF about their commitments to provide $3 billion to Pakistan.

Riyadh will provide $2 billion while Abu Dhabi has promised $1 billion to Pakistan, Dar said, adding that the Washington-based lender has also been informed in this regard.

The finance minister said all the conditions for the staff-level agreement between Pakistan and IMF have been fulfilled.

“Pakistan is hopeful that IMF will soon sign the SLA and get it approved by its Executive Board,” Dar added.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen to cover barely a month of imports after the IMF funding stalled in November, hit by snags over fiscal policy adjustments after officials of the lender visited Islamabad in February for talks.

They formed part of a ninth review exercise on a bailout package of $6.5 billion agreed upon in 2019 whose resumption is critical for Pakistan to avoid risking default on external payment obligations.

Pakistan had to complete actions demanded by the IMF, such as reversing subsidies in its power, export and farming sectors, hikes in the prices of energy and fuel, and a permanent power surcharge, among other measures.

These steps included jacking up its key policy rate to an all-time high of 21%, a market-based exchange rate, arranging for external financing, and raising more than Rs170 billion ($613 million) in new taxes.

The fiscal adjustments have already fuelled Pakistan’s highest inflation ever, which climbed in March to more than 35% on the year.

The IMF programme will disburse another tranche of $1.4 billion to Pakistan before it concludes in June.

Funds from the lender will also unlock other bilateral and multilateral financings for the cash-strapped country.

Neighbouring China has rolled over $2 billion and refinanced another $1.3 billion in recent weeks.

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Pakistani stocks are rising, and the KSE-100 breaks the 69,000 barrier.

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The benchmark KSE-100 Index increased 1.76 percent on Monday, passing beyond the 69,000 barrier for the first time in its history. This maintained Pakistani stock market’s record-breaking run, as investors remained upbeat about potential rate cuts by the central bank.

The most recent advances also follow Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s iftar dinner given by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Makkah, at a time when Riyadh is anticipated to announce an approximately $1 billion investment in Reko Diq, one of the world’s greatest reserves of copper and gold.

After reaching a high of 69,720.03, the KSE-100 Index concluded at 69,619.98 with a net gain of 1,203.20 points by the time trading was closed for the day. This was due to international investors, both individual and institutional, making purchases.

The meeting between Shehbaz and the Saudi crown prince, also referred to as MBS, may open doors for investment in a variety of industries, including mining, energy, and agriculture.

With record-high energy and interest rates driving up the cost of conducting business to an unaffordable level, investors are clamoring for foreign investment to prop up the economy.

Any improvement in this area would not only contribute to the rupee’s appreciation but also increase the value of cheap equities due to the anticipated purchasing frenzy, as buyers will not pass up the chance to purchase at the reduced prices.

However, there is a big question mark over the heightened expectations that the State Bank of Pakistan will begin reducing interest rates following the consumer price index (CPI) showing a steady fall in inflation over the past three months, particularly the greater than anticipated decline in March.

The reason is that, given Islamabad’s desperation to secure another package from the Washington-based lender, there is an impending hike in gasoline costs in addition to power and gas charges. This move will further sustain the inflationary pressure under the IMF criteria.

Meanwhile, the most recent US data has reduced expectations for potential rate reduction by the Federal Reserve, which is driving up the price of gold as speculative purchasing occurs.

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The price of gold is still rising in Pakistan.

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24 carat gold’s per tola pricing increased by Rs 600 on Monday, when it was sold for Rs 245,700 as opposed to Rs 245,100 the day before.

Ten grams of 24 carat gold cost Rs 514 more than the selling price of Rs 210,648; ten grams of 22 carat gold cost Rs 193,094 instead of Rs 192,622, according to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association.

Silver prices per tola and per ten grams stayed at Rs 2,650 and Rs 2271.94, respectively.

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According to the Association, the price of gold went up $5 to $2,355 on the global market from $2,350.

24 carat gold saw a rise in prices per tola on April 6 of Rs 4,900. It was sold on Saturday for Rs 245,100 as opposed to Rs 240,200 the day before.

The price of 10 grams of 24 carat gold went up by Rs4,200, and it was sold for Rs210,134 as opposed to Rs205,932. The price of 10 grams of 22 carat gold went up to Rs192,622 from Rs 188,772, according to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association.

Silver prices per tola and per ten grams stayed at Rs 2,650 and Rs 2271.94, respectively.

According to the Association, the price of gold went up $44 to $2,350 on the global market from $2,306.

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PIA privatization: “Investors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar are briefed by Pakistan.”

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According to information provided, investors in the aviation industry in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia were approached and given a briefing on the privatization of PIA.

According to additional sources, investors received information about “profitable” investments in the international lines operated by FIA and PIA.

Since National Airline’s debts and losses were transferred to the withholding firm prior to privatization, all of them have been paid off.

According to the sources, every obstacle to the PIA’s privatization has been removed.

It is important to note that, as the government moves on with its privatization plan, up to three Gulf nations—the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar—have expressed interest in purchasing the financially troubled Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), according to sources.

Previously, purchasers were asked to submit proposals by May 3 for the privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

The Pakistani government intends to sell 51 percent of the national flag carrier’s shares; the remaining 49 percent will be owned by the government. The government’s goal is to privatize solely the PIA’s aviation department.

According to the officials, the business that purchases the 51 percent of the shares would continue to hold administrative authority over PIA.

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