Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has once again failed to provide a timetable for when the staff-level agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be signed.
During a Question/Answer session in the Senate, Dar was unable to give a timeline on when the SLA would be signed with the lender. However, he said the IMF wants friendly countries’ commitments to be fulfilled.
On the prospect of Pakistan defaulting on its loans, Dar asserted that the country would not default on its payments. “There is no question of default, Pakistan will manage its responsibilities and will make every payment on time,” he said.
According to the minister, the current government has not deferred any international obligations. “We have been making all the payments. However, Pakistan is paying a huge cost after the previous government last year reversed its sovereign commitments.”
Dar stated that the country’s foreign exchange reserves had increased in the previous five weeks. “We are trying our best. The government’s target is to take the country’s national reserves to $13 billion by June. I am sure it is possible,” he claimed.
Dar noted, “IMF or no IMF, we need to jointly run the country, and there should be no politics on the economy”, adding that “no business can run” in a high-interest rate environment, which currently stands at 20%. He said that the monetary policy is completely independent and “totally under the control of the central bank (SBP)”.
Pakistan is in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in its history. The South Asian country has faced a slew of problems, including a perceived default risk and a downgrade by international rating agencies reflecting the state of the economy, as well as major political turmoil and frequent changes in key leadership.