Pakistan “engaged” with IMF for bailout package: Ministry of Finance

Pakistan “engaged” with IMF for bailout package: Ministry of Finance
Pakistan has been negotiating a deal with the IMF since November last year to shore up the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and avert the possibility of a balance-of-payments crisis. (Reuters/photo)
Updated 04 March 2019

Pakistan “engaged” with IMF for bailout package: Ministry of Finance

Pakistan “engaged” with IMF for bailout package: Ministry of Finance
  • IMF program expected to be signed in April, says an EAC member
  • Pakistan’s urgency for IMF loan was somewhat reduced by $6 billion cash assistance from Saudi Arabia, UAE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance said on Sunday that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package have been in progress and the deal may mature in the coming week.

“We are still engaged with the IMF,” Saeed Javed, Media Director at the Finance Ministry, told Arab News without revealing further details.

Pakistan and the IMF will reach an agreement over a bailout soon, with a potential bailout size of about $12 billion, said FitchSolutions, a statistical rating organization headquartered in New York, in a statement issued last week.

However, Javed neither confirmed nor denied the report, saying “the volume of the loan from the IMF will become clear in the next few days.”

Pakistan has been negotiating a deal with the IMF since November last year to shore up the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and avert the possibility of a balance-of-payments crisis. But the agreement is yet to be reached due to “tough economic conditions” the Fund may impose before it offers financial assistance.

“We expect to see a bailout package that focuses on fiscal consolidation, a review of monetary and exchange rate policy, financial reforms, and structural reforms, similar to measures implemented in the previous loan agreement,” the FitchSolutions said.

Hopes for the expected bailout package soared in the second week of February, when Prime Minister Imran Khan called on IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Dubai and they both agreed to “work together” on policy priorities and reforms to fix the country’s fledgling economy. But Finance Minister Asad Umar has repeatedly said that Pakistan would sign the financial deal with the IMF only if it “gets the loan on favorable conditions.”

Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, senior economist and a member of the Economic Advisory Council of the government, said the prime minister and his team have been looking for a “good deal,” thinking that this is the way forward to “steer the economy out of crisis.”

“I personally feel the deal with the IMF will be signed in April this year and it will be applicable from July,” he told Arab News.

This will be the country’s 13th loan program since the late 1980, though the government claims that this will be the last one to support the economy. Until now, Islamabad has managed to successfully complete only one IMF program – meaning that it received all the disbursements as planned – that ended in 2016.

Muzamil Aslam, senior economist and former CEO of EFG-Hermes Pakistan, said the government’s urgency for the IMF package was somewhat reduced by $6 billion direct cash assistance ($3 billion each) from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and it had bought itself some “bargaining time” to deal with the Fund.

“If the government signs a financial package with the IMF by accepting all its terms and conditions, then Pakistan is likely to plunge deeper into the economic crisis instead of coming out of it,” he told Arab News.


EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries
Updated 25 January 2021

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries
  • Business class tickets discounted by 35%, and economy class tickets by 25%, with discounts applicable when purchasing tickets until Jan. 31
  • Tourism revenues in Egypt plummeted by more than 69% during the last year due largely to the coronavirus disease pandemic

CAIRO: EgyptAir has announced a 50 percent discount on economy and business class tickets between Cairo and a number of European destinations.

The company offered discounts on its flights between Cairo and Paris for travel from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, between Cairo and Amsterdam for travel on Jan. 24, 27 and 29, Cairo and London from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29 and between Cairo and Frankfurt on Jan. 28.

The company announced the continuation of discounts on flights between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah and Al-Qassim.

Business class tickets are 35 percent off, and economy class tickets are 25 percent off, with discounts applicable when purchasing tickets until Jan. 31 and traveling until March 15, returning before March 31.

Last Thursday, the state-owned company began applying additional discounts to the price of fuel for the aviation sector, to reach 15 cents per gallon, in support of the tourism sector and to stimulate aviation.

Tourism revenues in Egypt plummeted by more than 69 percent during the last year due largely to the coronavirus disease pandemic, dropping to about $4 billion compared to more than $13 billion in 2019 due to the suspension of air traffic and travel worldwide, and the closure of borders between countries for several months.

Egypt announced an initiative to stimulate domestic tourism under the title “Winter in Egypt,” which relies on reducing the prices of domestic flight tickets.