The International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation is giving Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team a “very tough time,” admitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday.
Speaking at a meeting of the Apex Committee in Peshawar today, the premier highlighted the revised IMF preconditions for the resumption of the $7 billion bailout as very difficult to fathom and the lender is offering no room for relief despite requests.
Without going into much detail on the ongoing IMF dialogue, the PM said, “Our economic challenge at this moment is unimaginable. The conditions we have to fulfill [to complete the IMF review] are beyond imagination”.
The prime minister further admitted that the country had no other choice but to implement the lender’s conditions.
The IMF delegation led by Nathan Porter and the government began crunch talks on Tuesday for completing the 9th review. If it hasn’t already been stated numerous times in recent months, everyone now understands that in order to avoid default, Pakistan must complete the IMF review.
Latest weekly statistics suggest the country’s reserves have been depleted to a critically low level of $3.09 billion as of January 27, which can cover only 18 days of imports. Completing the IMF review would result in a $1.12 billion disbursement as well as inflows from friendly countries and other multilateral lenders.
Since the crunch talks began this week, the IMF mission has emphasized the importance of immediate and strong measures to bridge Pakistan’s looming fiscal gap of roughly Rs. 2.5 trillion. In the past few days, the conditions have gotten messier, while requests for added relief have been outright rejected.