Finance Minister Mohammad Aurangzeb confirms talks with IMF this week


Mohammad Aurangzeb – Pakistan’s newly sworn-in Finance Minister – has confirmed that Islamabad’s talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the $3 billion Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) are likely to commence this week with the government to send a formal request to the monetary body to cushion country’s dwindling economy.

According to the media reports, Finance Minister Mohammad Aurangzeb took the oath of office and participated in the federal cabinet’s maiden session today (Tuesday, March 12) at the President’s House in Islamabad. In response to a question about the possibility of sending a formal request to the IMF for the parleys, he hoped that the talks with the staff of the Washington-based lender begin this week.

The reports further stated that Pakistan would dispatch an email to the IMF headquarters in Washington DC to send its review team to Islamabad for the talks and release of the last tranche worth $1.1 billion.

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The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif may also ask to start negotiations on a new, medium-term bailout package for the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF). There is a good chance that this amount will be increased with climate financing of an additional $1.5 to $2 billion to obtain additional funding from the IMF beyond Pakistan’s allotted quota.

Last week, the media reports said that Pakistan will begin vital negotiations with the Fund to finish the second review under the $3 billion Small and Medium Enterprise Program. In this regard, the formal invitation was to be delivered shortly after the federal cabinet was formed and sworn in one day earlier. In the meantime, the recently appointed finance czar declared that the current fiscal year, 2024, would be challenging and that it was now time for action rather than just talking.

Aurangzeb had already committed to devote all of his efforts to resolving Pakistan’s present financial and economic problems when he took the oath of office. The recently appointed finance minister declined to comment when questioned about the IMF program, stating he would need briefings before making a statement.

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