ICMD, Amy 1, 2019

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday said that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a proposed bailout package would continue during the next few days, and that Pakistan was hopeful of success in the talks with the global lender.

Pakistani officials and IMF representatives held an important meeting in the federal capital earlier in the day. The Pakistani delegation was led by Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and included three additional secretaries and a senior joint secretary from the Finance Ministry. Secretaries from the power and petroleum divisions, and the chairmen of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) also participated in the talks.

In a brief conversation with journalists following the conclusion of the day’s talks, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said initial negotiations were held with the IMF team, which was also briefed on the economic reforms.

The visiting IMF delegation, which arrived in Islamabad on Monday, is expected to conclude the technical details of the proposed loan by May 6. The proposed bailout package is expected to range between $7 billion and $8 billion. According to sources, Wednesday’s round of talks focused on briefing the IMF team on the tax amnesty scheme by the FBR, privatisation programme, power and gas tariffs and the government’s policies.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had met IMF Director Christine Lagarde on Friday on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China. During the meeting, the two sides had agreed on the importance of the IMF programme for the country and reviewed the relationship between Pakistan and the global lender. Imran had identified areas of reforms and initiatives being undertaken by his government to stabilise the economy, control inflation and achieve fiscal balance. The two parties had also agreed on the need for a social safety net for vulnerable groups of society. After the meeting, the IMF director, in a social media post, had said that she was glad to have a meeting with the Pakistani premier, in which a comprehensive policy package was discussed to alleviate the country’s economy. “We discussed prospects for a comprehensive policy package and international financial support to help stabilize the economy of Pakistan, and also the need to strengthen governance and protect the poor,” she had said.