Pakistan: Desperate PM Shehbaz makes 4th contact with IMF chief in six days


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday made his fourth contact with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director (MD) Kristalina Georgieva in six days as the cash-strapped nation scrambles to revive a stalled bailout programme.

Rating agencies and economists fear that the $350 billion economy could default on its foreign debt obligations if it fails to secure the $1.1 loan tranche of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreed in 2019 expiring on June 30.

Pakistan has been trying to unlock the loan programme stalled since November.

The fourth contact was made when the prime minister spoke to the IMF chief over the phone after meeting her thrice — from Thursday to Saturday — on the sidelines of the New Global Financial Pact summit held in Paris, France.

The PM’s Office released a statement that the IMF chief and the prime minister discussed matters related to the stalled bailout programme.

On the call, the IMF chief acknowledged Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team’s efforts for attempting to revive the loan — after policy matters were discussed in Paris.

The premier expressed hope that coordination on the points of the bailout programme would lead to a decision from the Washington-based lender in a day or two.

“The prime minister also reiterated his determination to achieve the goals of improving the economic situation through joint efforts,” the statement read.

The statement added that while hoping Pakistan’s economic situation would improve, the IMF chief appreciated the prime minister’s determination.

The South Asian nation is going through its worst economic crisis amid record inflation and interest rates, but it has seen prospects for its IMF loan take a positive turn before it expires at the end of the week.

In a dramatic final attempt to appease the lender, the nation agreed to raise taxes by $750 million and cut spending in its annual budget over the weekend. __The News