About 90% of Geneva pledges are project loans: Dar

By Anzal Amin

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar revealed on Wednesday that almost 90 per cent of pledges made by the in-ternational community at a donors’ conference in Geneva for flood-hit Pakistan were project loans that will be rolled out over the next three years.
Earlier this week, the international community committed to give Pakistan a huge sum exceeding $10bn to help it re-cover from last year’s devastating floods. Officials from some 40 countries as well as private donors and international financial institutions had gathered for the meeting, co-hosted by Islamabad and United Nations. During a press conference yesterday alongside Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other members of the federal cabi-net, Dar said that $8.7bn of the pledges were loans. He did not reveal what the terms of these loans were. However, the prime minister said “we expect the terms to be lenient”. Dar highlighted that project loan financing had already crossed $8bn, which included commitments from the Islamic Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the World Bank.
“I am not incorporating the pledge made by the Saudi Development Bank on purpose here because it is not clear whether their announcement of $1bn pertains to programme lending or project loan,” Dar said.
Responding to a question on how soon he expects these pledges to turn into actual inflows, the premier said that de-pended on “us”.
“The faster we can design and create feasibilities and impress them [donors], the faster these pledges will material-ise.”During the presser, the finance minister also talked about a meeting he had with the IMF team on the sidelines of the Geneva moot, revealing that discussions over the already delayed ninth review for the release of $1.2 billion revolved around the government’s ability to meet the revenue targets previously determined for the ongoing fiscal year after the Federal Board of Revenue fell short in December.
This gap in revenue collection was a result of a high court invalidating the super tax imposed by the government in June last year, according to the finance minister. He said that his team informed the IMF that Pakistan could recover the revenue shortfall in a staggered manner after the Supreme Court ruled on the super tax. “We are not changing the fiscal budget target and we will achieve it,” he asserted.
However, the IMF still wanted the government to take fiscal measures and cut back some subsidies, Dar added. “We have identified some fiscal measures but there will be no burden on the common man. They will be very targeted and categorical,” he assured. Dar asked naysayers to stop spreading panic over “default” rumours, saying such elements must consider national in-terest above everything.