Islamabad [Pakistan]: The USD 3 billion staff-level agreement Pakistan inked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday should be the country’s last loan programme with the Fund, said Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Dawn reported.
The executive board of the lender must approve the staff-level deal, which is on a USD 3 billion stand-by arrangement, the IMF said. The long-awaited judgement was finally made after an eight-month delay, which gives Pakistan, which is now dealing with a severe balance of payments crisis and declining foreign exchange reserves, some relief.
On Friday, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced that the premier and the finance minister would address the public today to “inspire confidence” in the IMF deal, as per Dawn.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Aurangzeb and Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman, PM Shehbaz, in a press conference in Lahore alongside, offered Eid greetings to the nation and the global Muslim community.
“Today, as you all know, our interaction with the IMF which was underway for many months reached a very positive conclusion and you all must have read the IMF statement. I don’t need to say anything further on it.” PM Shehbaz also said it was not a “moment of pride but a moment of contemplation”, questioning whether nations developed on the back of loans, as per Dawn.
“Never, forget this, we were forced to take this loan and it is my prayer … that this is the last time Pakistan goes into an IMF programme and we never have to take a loan again,” Sharif added.
PM Sharif reiterated his remarks in a later tweet.
The prime minister stated that although he had numerous contacts and exchanges with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva during which the finance minister and his team presented their facts but in spite all of that, no progress had been made.
He added that in a meeting with the managing director in Paris last week, he had told her that the government had fulfilled the Fund’s conditions and put its political capital at stake “just so that we can prevent Pakistan from defaulting and we took bitter steps for the country’s economic stability,” according to Dawn.
PM Shehbaz claimed that Georgieva had informed him of two to three additional actions that were needed to be taken, and he had encouraged her not to worry and that he would right away try to make progress in those areas.
He noted that after the managing director expressed concerns about the USD 2 billion external funding shortfall, he instructed the finance minister to make a “final effort” to address the IMF’s “serious doubts” in that area.
Sharif added that after their meeting, the head of the Islamic Development Bank offered USD 1 billion in funding for Pakistan.
He added that he had discussions with the IMF managing director once more, who assured him that they would move forward jointly.
He added that he again held meetings with the IMF managing director who reassured him of moving forward together.
PM Sharif called the moment, an “ice-breaking and turning point” in Paris, after which Georgieva called him and said that many things were fast progressing in terms of the IMF deal.
“This is how I can say that the staff level agreement is complete which is a very big step towards the [IMF] board [approval],” he said, adding that the IMF board will have its meeting on July 12 in which the USD 3 billion stand-by agreement will be taken up, reported Dawn.