The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has issued meetings scheduled till 14th December 2023, but Pakistan is not on the agenda as its review under the $3 billion stand-by arrangement (SBA) program remains pending, despite November’s successful second round of negotiations with Pakistani authorities following the lender’s visit to the country.
The current IMF program of $3 billion is scheduled to end in early April 2024, with around $1.8 billion remaining undisbursed.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance are actively engaged in pushing for an expedited session before Christmas break, sources told ProPakistani.
Notably, the lender released $1.2 billion as a first tranche in July. The remaining quota is in contention for disbursement but uncertainty over the release of funds before the General Elections in February 2024 has fueled speculation that the lender has opted to wait despite all-out efforts of the caretaker government.
Economic analyst A H H Soomro told ProPakistani, ” Disbursement would happen whenever the board is convened. The country can tide the wave for a month if even delayed”.
According to the IMF Executive Board calendar available on its website, the next meetings are scheduled for December 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, and then on December 14, 2023. Pakistan is not on the agenda but it could be added if authorities succeed in convincing the lender.
Finance Ministry sources have underscored the urgency of the situation, given the imminent commencement of the Christmas holidays in the last week of December. International financial institutions, including the IMF, are expected to observe closures during this period. While there were indications from IMF officials in Pakistan suggesting the likelihood of an executive board meeting concerning Pakistan’s agenda within 6 to 8 weeks of the staff-level agreement, the caretaker government is pushing for clarity in the coming days.
Insider information reveals that high-level contacts are currently underway between the caretaker government and the IMF to expedite the approval process and address Pakistan’s agenda on an urgent basis.
During their visit, the IMF team engaged in extensive discussions with officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Commerce. Finance Ministry sources said the IMF had previously crafted a policy paper in 2019, proposing conditions for a loan program with Pakistan.
The technical team is reevaluating the 2019 policy document in light of the current economic situation in Pakistan. The lender aims to devise a new set of measures that align with Pakistan’s present-day needs and challenges. Analysts cite this as a derailment catalyst that could push disbursement of roughly $710 million to as late as March, while further issues could mark the program as incomplete.