Aisha Ghaus Pasha, State Minister for Finance and Revenue, objected to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday for “intervening” in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
“Pakistan’s behavior is in accordance with the law,” the state minister added, calling IMF Mission Chief for Pakistan Nathan Porter’s statement on Pakistan’s political situation “extraordinary.”
While the IMF does not comment on domestic politics, Porter stated that the Fund hopes “a peaceful way forward in accordance with the Constitution and the rule of law is found.”
The state minister expressed hope that both parties will reach a staff-level agreement before the announcement of the federal budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, which is due on June 9, and stated that the delay is not helpful for Pakistan or the Fund.
Dr. Pasha corroborated reports that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and that the premier assured the fund’s director that Pakistan will meet all of its obligations.
On May 27, Prime Minister Shehbaz contacted Georgieva, urging that she assist Pakistan in reviving the stalled $6.5 billion plant.
According to insiders, PM Shehbaz asked her to intercede in order to complete the delayed ninth review, which would unleash $1.1 billion in loans for the cash-strapped country.
Since November, the coalition government has been negotiating with the Washington-based lender to restart its bailout programme, with the finance shortfall being one of the most significant impediments. The $6.5 billion scheme, which is set to expire next month, has around $2.7 billion left to payout.
In response to a question about Pakistan’s plan of action if it fails to persuade the fund before the program’s expiration date of June 30, the minister said, “The Ministry of Finance is not sitting with its eyes closed, there is always a Plan B, but our priority is to revive the IMF programme.”
In his remarks on the next budget, the state minister told the public that the finance law will try to provide relief to the people because it is an “election year budget.”
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar stated on Sunday that Pakistan will share budget specifics with the fund. He went on to say that he would prefer the IMF to complete its ninth review before the budget, which is set to be presented in early June because all of the criteria had already been met.
“They have asked for some more things again, we are ready to give that too, they say give us budget details, we will give it to them,” Dar said in an interview with Private News.
Concerning the forthcoming reviews, he stated that combining the ninth and tenth reviews of the bailout would be unworkable for Pakistan, adding, “We will not do it, (we) see this as (as) unfair.”