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Talks Between IMF and Pakistan Ongoing: Finance Ministry

by Newsweek Pakistan

Saul Loeb—AFP

Officials claim negotiations proceeding ‘positively’ and there will be ‘good news’ for nation shortly

Adviser to the P.M. on Finance Shaukat Tarin has returned to Washington, D.C. from New York to rejoin ongoing discussions between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance.

Tarin, formerly the finance minister, was notified as an adviser earlier this week after the passage of six months since being appointed an unelected minister. The government, despite several claims, was unable to get him elected to either the Senate or the National Assembly—a requirement for him to continue as minister after six months.

“The adviser [Tarin] has returned to Washington, D.C. to join ongoing discussions with the IMF,” spokesperson Muzzamil Aslam said on Twitter. “Media reports related to inconclusive talks are baseless,” he added in a reference to reports from last week that the talks had failed to achieve consensus. IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department Director Jihad Azour on Tuesday echoed Aslam, claiming that talks between Islamabad and the global lender on the resumption of the stalled $6 billion Extended Fund Facility were progressing in a “very good” manner.

“The discussion around the sixth review is currently progressing around various pillars,” he told journalists during an event linked to unveiling the Regional Economic Outlook: The Middle East and Central Asia – October 2021. “The progress has gone in a very good step and the mission with the authorities is going through various details,” he added.

Meanwhile, State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir—who had been part of the negotiations with the IMF in Washington—reached London this week and told an event organized by overseas Pakistanis that the talks with the global lender were moving forward positively.

Acknowledging the impact of inflation globally, he emphasized that Pakistan was not alone in facing rampant price hikes of essential commodities. However, per routine, he failed to factor in that Pakistan has faced continuous inflationary pressures for more than two years—with no let up even during the COVID-19 pandemic—while the rest of the world is only catching up due to the economy opening up once again.

Claiming that the inflation in Pakistan was linked to the rise in fuel prices, he maintained that the current pressure on payments was actually evidence that the country’s economy was improving.

Talking to private broadcaster Geo News, he claimed that authorities would soon have “good news” for the nation on the resumption of the IMF bailout.

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