Pakistan nears deal with IMF for bailout package - Ministry of Finance

Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar (R) meets with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Bali Convention Centre during the 2018 IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Oct. 11, 2018. (AFP file photo)
Updated 15 April 2019

Pakistan nears deal with IMF for bailout package - Ministry of Finance

  • Global body's representatives to visit country by the end of the month to finalize modalities
  • Experts say loan could help stabilize economy, boost growth

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance said on Monday that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a three-year bailout package have been finalized, a move that could help stabilize the economy and ease pressure on the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Islamabad has been negotiating a deal with the IMF since November last year to stave off the possibility of a balance-of-payments crisis. However, the agreement got delayed due to “tough economic conditions” which the the Fund had imposed prior to signing the deal.
“All the things have been agreed [with the IMF] in principle, and hopefully a technical mission of the IMF will visit Pakistan by the end of this month to finalize the modalities,” Dr. Khaqan Hassan Najeeb, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, told Arab News on Monday.
Finance Minister Asad Umar returned to Pakistan on Monday after his five-day visit to the United States, where he – alongwith members of his delegation – participated in the IMF-World Bank spring meetings.
The finance minister is expected to brief the federal cabinet on Tuesday about his talks with the IMF and World Bank officials prior to signing the bailout deal.
Officials from the finance ministry said the bailout package is expected to be between $6 billion to $8 billion in value. Najeeb, however, said that the loan amount would be finalized during the visit by the IMF’s representatives.
This will be the country’s 13th loan program since the late 1980s, even though the government claims that this will be the last one that will be taken to support the economy. Thus far, Islamabad has managed to successfully complete only one IMF program which ended in 2016, which means that it received all the disbursements as planned.
Pakistan has sought loans and financial aid from several of its allies – including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and China – to reservice the debt and shore up its economy. The external account pressure reduced the country’s international reserves to $6.6 billion by mid-January 2019, but with short-term financing from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China, foreign reserves increased to $10.27 billion by April 11.
Last week, the IMF warned that Pakistan’s growth would fall to 2.9 percent and 2.8 percent during the current and next fiscal years unless the country implemented an IMF-recommended reforms' program.
Muzamil Aslam, a senior economist and former CEO of EFG-Hermes Pakistan, said that the IMF deal would end uncertainty in the country’s capital market and stabilize the economy.
“The government should focus on long overdue structural reforms to put the economy back on the track, ensure a financial discipline for a comfortable future, and boost economic growth,” he told Arab News.


Gunmen kill journalist in northwestern Pakistan

Updated 18 min 54 sec ago

Gunmen kill journalist in northwestern Pakistan

  • Javedullah Khan was traveling with a police guard when two gunmen opened fire on his vehicle
  • Police says it was a targeted attack

PESHAWAR: A Pakistan journalist whose relatives were members of an anti-Taliban group has been gunned down, police confirmed Wednesday, the latest attack targeting media in the restive northwest of the country.
Javedullah Khan, 36, was shot dead late Tuesday in Matta, a former militant stronghold some 40-kilometers (24 miles) northwest of Pakistan’s picturesque Swat valley.
He worked as a bureau chief for the Urdu language newspaper Ausaf.
“Javed was traveling with a police guard when two gunmen opened fire on his vehicle. He died on the spot,” senior police official Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP.
Ali Muhammad a local police official, also confirmed the incident.
“It was a targeted attack,” Muhammad added.
“Many of his relatives, including a brother, uncles, and cousins were killed due to their involvement in anti-Taliban peace committees.”
For years, Pakistan has encouraged tribal vigilante forces, known locally as peace committees, to defend their villages against militants.
Most have been disbanded following a dramatic improvement in security across the country.
While militant networks have been severely disrupted in recent years, insurgents still retain the ability to launch attacks.
Amnesty International said Khan was an “exceptionally brave journalist” and called for an independent investigation into his killing.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants have long targeted pro-government tribal elders in the past.
Pakistan routinely ranks among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers, and reporters have frequently been detained, beaten and even killed for being critical of the powerful military or Islamist militants.