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Pakistan to meet ‘external debt servicing obligations’

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  • Pasha says govt in talks with Saudi Arabia and China for loans.
  • “We will ensure our foreign debt requirements are met,” she says.
  • Pakistan faces uphill task as it has to pay $8.3bn in next 3 months.

Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha stressed Thursday that Pakistan would not default on its international obligations and the government would ensure timely external debt payments.

The minister’s comments came as — despite assurances from the government about the country’s finances — the situation remains gloomy and experts warn of an economic crunch ahead.

In conversation with journalists in Islamabad, the state minister added that there is “no chance” of Pakistan’s default as authorities were in talks with Saudi Arabia for a $3 billion loan and the same amount from $3 billion.

“We will also ensure that our foreign debt requirements are met,” the minister said, as Pakistan faces an uphill task of repaying the loans amid depleting forex reserves.

Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha speaks in this undated photo. — Twitter/@aishagpasha
Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha speaks in this undated photo. — Twitter/@aishagpasha

The foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SCP) stood at $6.11 billion on December 22, 2022, against $10.8 billion in April 2022 when the coalition government regime took over the reins of power after ousting Imran Khan through the vote of no-confidence.

Amid a crisis-like situation, Pakistan will have to repay approximately $8.3 billion in the shape of external debt servicing over the next three months (Jan-March) of the current fiscal year.

The government is eyeing to pass the ninth review of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure a $1.7 billion bailout package, but both sides have made no substantial headway in recent days.

In this regard, the minister said the money lender’s annual holidays were underway, but the Pakistani authorities were in contact with them over the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Pasha also said Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar would meet the Fund’s officials at the international donor’s conference in Geneva on January 9.

The country aims to gather funds from global donors as cataclysmic floods had battered the nation and caused damages worth $30 billion despite Pakistan being one of the lowest carbon emitters.

“Maybe our friendly countries are waiting for the donors’ conference so they can help us [and provide loans],” Minister Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal told Geo News’ Shahzeb Khanzada earlier this month.

In his address to investors at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Wednesday, FinMin Dar said that the country will not default but did admit that the economy was in a “tight position”.

“It’s been three months since I took charge and we listen every day that there is going to be a default. How will there be a default? There is no chance that Pakistan will default,” the finance minister assured the investors.

Dar assured that Pakistan would survive and is managing itself but conceded that the economy was in a “tight position”.

He added that the country does not have the $24 billion reserves that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) left in 2016 but that was not his fault.

“The fault is in the system and we must ensure Pakistan goes forward,” said the finance minister.

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IMF board to meet on Jan 11 for Pakistan’s first review approval

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  • Pakistan’s case not included in board meeting agenda for Dec 1-15. 
  • Ongoing SBA programme is going to expire on April 14, 2024.
  • Pakistan, IMF reached agreement on first review last month.

The International Monetary Fund’s Executive Board will take up Pakistan’s first review on January 11 next year for approval that will unlock $700 million under the standby arrangement (SBA), Bloomberg quoted the lender’s spokesperson as saying on Friday.

Last month, Pakistan reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF under the $3 billion SBA and is awaiting the board’s approval to receive a second tranche.

Earlier this week, The News had reported that Pakistan’s first review for approval was not included in the IMF’s Executive Board meeting agenda for the 1-15 December schedule

The publication reported that the IMF did not firm up its exact schedule because the Fund’s team was busy securing re-confirmation from all multilateral and bilateral creditors to meet the financing requirements of $24.9 billion for the current fiscal year.

This delay surfaced in discussions among the policymakers that the IMF might kick-start parleys on the second review probably after the general elections and takeover by the elected government.

The IMF programme was initially scheduled to kick-start parleys for a second review from Feb 3, 2024, but if the elections were scheduled to be held on February 8, 2024, then the possibility of holding talks might be done in the last week of Feb or early March 2024.

The ongoing SBA programme is going to expire on April 14, 2024.

A day earlier, IMF Executive Director Bahador Bijani noted an overall improvement in the economic situation, saying, the “Pakistani authorities have delivered”.

He made these remarks at an event hosted by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US in honour of friends of Pakistan from International Financial Institutions including IMF, International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank (WB), and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), at Pakistan House in Washington.

“I think the future for Pakistan is very bright. Pakistan is not just any country. It’s one of the most important countries in the region and in the world. Pakistanis deserve much more,” the IMF executive director was quoted as saying in an official statement.

Nathan Porter, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, also expressed satisfaction over the recently concluded staff-level agreement. He said that the actions and policies of the current government reflected its commitment to steer the country towards stabilisation.

Pakistan is reeling from Asia’s fastest inflation, has about $1 billion in dollar-denominated debt due next year and is scheduled to hold elections scheduled in February.

Interim Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar said after the staff-level deal in November that the country may seek an additional loan from the IMF, describing the economy as “still fragile.”

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PSX hits new milestone as KSE-100 surges past 66,000 mark

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KARACHI: Bulls maintained their grip on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) as the benchmark index shot past the 66,000 mark on Friday by gaining over 1,000 points. 

According to the PSX website, the KSE-100 index gained 1,302.45 points or 2.01% to reach 66,020.52 points at 11:39am during the intraday trading.

— Screengrab
— Screengrab

Raza Jafri, who is the head of equities at Karachi-based Intermarket Securities, said that the banks and energy sector lead the rally at the bourse as cheap valuations and a reasonably settled environment help flows remain strong as foreign and local buys continue to invest.

“The MPC (Monetary Policy Meeting) next week should set the tone for near-term trading. While unchanged interest rates are widely expected, investors will look for clues in the text of the monetary policy statement to gauge how much interest rates can come down by next year,” he added. 

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Pakistani authorities have ‘delivered’ on economic front, says top IMF official

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  • IMF official says Pakistan ‘important’ country in the world.
  • “Our country is destined to succeed,” says Masood Khan.
  • Nathan Porter hails actions and policies of Pakistani govt. 

WASHINGTON: Bahador Bijani, an Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has noted an overall improvement in the economic situation, saying, the “Pakistani authorities have delivered”.

He made these remarks at an event hosted by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US in honour of friends of Pakistan from International Financial Institutions including IMF, International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank (WB), and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), at Pakistan House in Washington.

“I think the future for Pakistan is very bright. Pakistan is not just any country. It’s one of the most important countries in the region and in the world. Pakistanis deserve much more,” the IMF executive director was quoted as saying in an official statement.

The meeting took place as Islamabad awaits the IMF board’s meeting to approve a staff-level agreement on the first review of a $3 billion bailout, which will unlock $700 million in funding for the country.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Masood Khan observed that the past year was difficult for Pakistan. “We have passed through a wrenching transition and we are moving toward a new phase of stability,” he added.

“Have faith in Pakistan. Our country is destined to succeed,” he said.

“Our confidence stems from the people of Pakistan. We have a growing middle class and our human capital is increasing at a very fast pace,” he added.

Addressing a gathering of over 40 guests from the IFIs, the ambassador said that we were grateful to IFIs for their steadfast support in navigating through a difficult economic period.

Nathan Porter, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, speaking on the occasion, expressed satisfaction over the recently concluded staff-level agreement. He said that the actions and policies of the current government reflected its commitment to steer the country towards stabilisation.

“With that base, hopefully, we can build on and be able to move forward to reforms to build a stronger, prosperous and inclusive Pakistan,” he said.

He also appreciated the cooperation and the policies pursued by the State Bank of Pakistan for ensuring fiscal stability in the country.

Athanasios Arvanitis, Deputy Director Middle East and Central Asia Department IMF, also spoke on the occasion and expressed the hope that the elections in Pakistan would usher into a new beginning of undertaking a reform process that the country needed to make progress and address some of its structural issues.

Thanking them for their strong support, Ambassador Khan observed that the digitisation of Pakistan’s economy was creating new opportunities in the country for its youth and professionals taking the lead role in steering the country towards a bright future.

Lauding the professional achievements of Pakistanis working in the IFIs, the ambassador observed that Pakistani professionals have proved their mettle and have made the entire nation proud of their accomplishments.

“We are a nation of talented people. If you can make it, Pakistan will also make it,” observed the ambassador.

Syed Ali Abbas, Advisor Mission Chief UK, European Department IMF, in his remarks, expressed the hope that with the successful completion of the electoral process in Pakistan, the country would move towards a long-term and more durable approach which would change the trajectory of Pakistan.

Aftab Qureshi from the World Bank and Sidra Rehman from the IMF also spoke on the occasion and assured their continued cooperation.

The ambassador thanked the members of the IFIs and said that the country looked forward to working with its development partners.

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