IMF ‘satisfied’ with Pakistan but no deal this week
- Finance minister says Pakistan “very close” to signing SLA with IMF.
- Says Pakistan “absolutely committed” to completing IMF programme.
- Calls for correcting mistakes made on the economic front in the last four years.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was “satisfied” with Pakistan’s actions but the staff-level agreement could not be signed this week.
“We seem to be very close to signing the staff-level agreement hopefully in the next few days,” Dar said in his address during a seminar titled “Reviving Economic Stability through the Strengthening of Public Financial Management” in the federal capital.
However, the finance minister, while citing his experience of completing 12 reviews of the “one and only” IMF programme Pakistan completed, shared that “it has taken longer than it should have” for Islamabad to complete the pending ninth review.
“I think we owe to this nation that we show seriousness, we deliver and we demonstrate to the world that we can honour the sovereign commitments no matter who made those,” said Dar. He also assured that his team was “absolutely committed” to completing the programme to the “best” of their ability.
While berating the Imran Khan-led government, Dar shared the situation of the economy when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government left in 2018.
The minister said that it pained him to see the economy fall to the rank of 47 in 2022 after it was predicted that Pakistan would join G20 by the end of 2030.
The finance czar also highlighted that the Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) market capitalisation was over $100 billion but dropped to $26 billion in the last few years.
“Another serious issue that we should be pondering about is the debt sustainability of Pakistan,” said the finance minister. He added that it was under $30 trillion in 2018 and has now climbed to $55 trillion in 2022.
“As a consequence, this country which used to have debt servicing of less than $2 trillion per annum in the fiscal year 2016-17 has risen to over $5 trillion,” said Dar.
“I think in the last few years, we should see what mistakes we have made on the economic front and we should try to correct those as soon as possible,” said the finance minister.
‘IMF deal not to be signed this week’
Later, to a question by a journalist, the finance minister said the agreement will not be finalised this week.
“Staff-level agreement with IMF is unlikely this week,” said the finance minister, adding that the Fund was “satisfied” with the actions taken by Pakistan.
When pressed that he had assured of striking the SLA by this week, Dar responded: “I said a few days, not this week.”
Gold rally in Pakistan as rupee extends losses
Gold prices climbed on Friday on the back of a sliding rupee, as markets remained focused on the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) interest rate strategy.
According to the data released by All-Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA), the price of gold (24 carats) rose by Rs700 per tola and Rs601 per 10 grams to settle at Rs208,700 and Rs178,927.
Exchange loss likely to deprive masses benefit in petrol price cut
- Govt to announce petrol price today for next fortnight.
- Exchange loss adjustment to rob consumers of petrol price cut.
- Current exchange rate is heavily tilted in favour of the dollar.
KARACHI: Due to a sharp rise in the value of the dollar in the last two weeks, the masses may not get any benefit in the prices of petroleum products, according to a The News report.
The report said that the price of diesel is reflecting an Rs34/litre decrease for the next fortnight. The government is scheduled to review the price of petroleum products today.
The international price of crude oil has come down, which can be translated into a major cut in domestic prices of petroleum products, but only if the government passes on the full impact to the end consumers.
However, sources in the oil sector believe that the government would not pass on the full impact of the reduction in the international prices on exchange losses accumulated over the months, which had put the oil sector in a financial crunch.
The government may be deterred to pass on the impact to end consumers, as the oil sector would be in deep financial trouble if their losses are not adjusted on account of sharp exchange rate fluctuations in the past many months.
Oil sector sources told the publication that the ex-refinery price of diesel is showing Rs34/litre decrease for the next fortnight. However, the exchange losses on diesel go over Rs100/litre, which needs to be adjusted.
Sources said that the government may pass on some relief by cutting the diesel price by Rs15 to 20 per litre for the consumers while adjusting the remaining exchange losses.
Sources, however, felt that this was a ripe time for the government to adjust whatever remained of exchange loss adjustment.
The fall in crude prices gave the government enough fiscal space to accommodate the oil companies, which have been facing financial problems as they were not receiving the full amount of exchange losses.
As far as petrol is concerned, its price is showing Rs13-14 per litre decline on the basis of its ex-refinery price in the next fortnight.
Again the exchange loss adjustment may deprive the consumers of the benefit of price reduction and the government may only pass on Rs4-5 relief while adjusting the remaining amount.
The present exchange rate is heavily tilted in the favour of the dollar. It is a huge hurdle for the government, in terms of reducing the prices of petroleum products in the domestic market.
According to the oil industry estimates, the average exchange rate calculated for the next fortnight is Rs283 to determine the price of the ex-refinery.
Pakistan’s oil sector has repeatedly requested the government in many letters to resolve the exchange losses issue, with few players in the industry pleading to make it more fair and transparent.
Petrol relief package gives IMF ‘excuse’ to delay agreement
- IMF verifying from KSA, UAE on financing before staff-level deal.
- Fund rejects initial petrol subsidy plan.
- Asks Pakistan to provide more details about fuel relief package.
ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the Pakistani authorities to provide more details about the petrol relief package causing more delay in the signing of the staff-level agreement, The News reported Thursday.
The half-baked cross-fuel subsidy proposal by the petroleum ministry has failed to convince the Fund, which has rejected the initial plan arguing that more details are required to verify its sustainability.
The question arises, according to the publication, as to why the PM Office and Ministry of Petroleum announced the plan without taking the IMF review mission into confidence prior to its announcement.
The report stated that the Ministry of Finance has distanced itself from the plan proposed at a time when Pakistan and the lender are inching towards signing the agreement.
The Ministry of Petroleum has now been advised to withdraw the proposal at this stage and iron out the policy details with the Ministry of Finance and then take the IMF into confidence in the next review.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha has termed the petrol subsidy plan ‘not workable’.
Speaking to journalists after attending the Senate Standing Committee on Finance meeting, Aisha Ghaus Pasha said there is no suggestion of subsidy on petroleum products and the Petroleum Division had suggested cross-subsidies on petroleum products, which is not workable.
She said that the parleys with the IMF were continuing and now the only outstanding issue remained of the lender getting confirmation on external financing from bilateral countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which was underway.
“There are indications that financial assistance is expected from bilateral friends very soon, that will help finalise the staff-level agreement with the IMF,” she said.
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