IMF board to approve staff-level agreement on Dec 7 – Business


ISLAMABAD: The Executive Board of the (*7*) Monetary Fund (IMF) is tentatively scheduled for Dec 7 to approve the Staff-Level Agreement (SLA) with Pakistan for the primary assessment of the $3bn Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) main to disbursement of about $700 million on Dec 8.

The IMF workers and the Pakistani authorities reached the SLA on Nov 15 in Islamabad, in accordance to an finish-of-mission assertion. This will allow Pakistan to have entry to SDR 528 million (round $700m). This will convey whole disbursements beneath the 9-month $3bn SBA to nearly $1.9bn.

A day later, Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar introduced shelving a $1.5bn Eurobond launch due to adversarial world monetary situations and dedicated to maintain frequently adjusting electrical energy and fuel charges to keep away from additional movement of round debt.

The IMF mission had referred to as upon the authorities to return to the market-decided change price and had highlighted dangers which will come up due to geopolitical tensions, rise in commodity costs and troublesome world monetary situations and suggested the authorities to proceed efforts to construct resilience.

Pakistan seemingly to obtain $700m tranche subsequent day

It additionally identified that well timed disbursement of dedicated exterior help stays crucial to help the authorities’ coverage and reform efforts as the federal government was accelerating engagement with multilateral and official bilateral companions.

This was after a very long time {that a} quarterly assessment with the fund remained clean and culminated within the fast announcement of an SLA as a lot of the quantitative targets had been complied with. The talks spanned over nearly two weeks (Nov 2-15) in Islamabad. The SBA was signed in July this yr with an upfront disbursement of about $1.2bn.

The fund assertion stated the agreement supported Pakistan’s dedication to advance the deliberate fiscal consolidation, speed up price-lowering reforms within the power sector, full the return to a market-decided change price, and pursue state-owned enterprise and governance reforms to entice funding and help job creation whereas persevering with to strengthen social help.

It famous that anchored by the stabilisation insurance policies beneath the SBA, a nascent restoration was underway, buoyed by worldwide companions’ help and indicators of improved confidence. The steadfast execution of the FY24 price range, continued adjustment of power costs, and renewed flows into the overseas change (FX) market have lessened fiscal and exterior pressures.

The fund stated inflation was anticipated to decelerate over the approaching months amid receding provide constraints and modest demand. “However, Pakistan stays inclined to vital exterior dangers, together with the intensification of geopolitical tensions, resurgent commodity costs, and the additional tightening in world monetary situations.

The IMF reiterated that strengthening macroeconomic sustainability and laying the situations for balanced development have been key priorities beneath the SBA and insisting on continued fiscal consolidation to scale back public debt, whereas defending growth wants. It appreciated that authorities have been decided to obtain a major surplus of no less than 0.4pc of GDP in FY24, underpinned by federal and provincial authorities spending restraint and improved income efficiency supported, if crucial, by contingent measures.

The two sides additionally agreed on additional reforms to scale back prices within the power sector and restore its viability. With the mixed round debt throughout energy and fuel sectors exceeding 4pc of GDP, fast motion was crucial that included energy tariff changes pending since July 2023 and elevated fuel costs after a very long time, efficient Nov 1, 2023.

The IMF conceded that these tariff will increase have been “substantial” however have been crucial to keep away from additional arrears that threatened the viability of those sectors and the availability of crucial power provides. The authorities are additionally shifting to sort out price-aspect pressures, together with bringing personal sector participation to Discos, institutionalising restoration and anti-theft actions, enhancing Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) phrases, and lowering the incentives for captive energy.

The fund insisted on returning to a market-decided change price on the earliest and rebuilding overseas change reserves. It famous that whereas inflows following elevated regulatory and regulation enforcement helped normalise import and FX funds and rebuild reserves, the authorities recognise that the rupee should stay market-decided to sustainably alleviate exterior pressures and rebuild reserves.

Published in Dawn, November twenty first, 2023

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