IMF MD to visit Pakistan for first time in 10 years

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad—The International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director will visit Pakistan next month to discuss the post-loan agenda with authorities amid disagreement among domestic stakeholders over the real impact of the assistance on national economy.
IMF MD Christine Lagarde and Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao would visit Pakistan next month, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on Monday.
It will be for the first time in over 10 years when the head of the global lender will come to Pakistan. Lagarde is expected to arrive on October 23, almost a month after the end of IMF’s $6.2 billion three-year Extended Fund Facility for Pakistan.
On September 28, the IMF Executive Board is going to approve the last remaining loan tranche of about $102 million in addition to approving the 12th review of Pakistan’s economy for the period April-June 2016.
Even in the last review, the IMF board would have to ease some conditions for clearing the loan as the government has missed two key targets.
“Pakistan has invited the MD and she has provisionally accepted the invitation,” said Tokhir Mirzoev, IMF Resident Representative in Islamabad, while talking to The Express Tribune.
He said it was expected that she would have discussions with Pakistani authorities, business community and other stakeholders on economic policies for the country in particular and on global economy in general.
In September 2013, Pakistan obtained a three-year IMF package aimed at avoiding default on international debt repayments and introducing structural reforms in energy, taxation and fiscal areas.
At the end of the programme, the government has claimed victory. The finance ministry has said that the budget deficit has been lowered from 8.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 to 4.6% by the end of fiscal year 2015-16, foreign currency reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan have increased to $18 billion and the economy has grown at a decent pace of 4.7%.
However, independent experts question these achievements as the government has abandoned the privatisation programme, could not address the energy sector circular debt and has failed to broaden the tax base.
Dr Hafiz Pasha, prominent economist and former finance minister, has highlighted how the government played with the data.
In a newspaper article, he pointed out that to claim that the budget deficit had been reduced to 4.6%, the government declared a Rs212-billion statistical discrepancy in last year’s fiscal accounts.
Over the last three years, the cumulative discrepancy was a colossal Rs605 billion.