Pakistan remains optimistic as first IMF review initiated

By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is optimistic about the successful completion of the first International Monetary Fund (IMF) review of the $3 billion standby arrangement (SBA) as the negotiations between the two sides have entered the final round, said well-placed sources.
The policy-level talks between the IMF and Pakistani authorities began today (Monday) and will con-tinue till November 15, the sources added.
The Pakistani delegation was led by Interim Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar and comprised State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmad, Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Malik Amjed Zubair Tiwan, and officials from the finance and energy ministries. Nathan Porter was heading the IMF team during the negotiation.
Finance ministry sources said that the IMF delegation presented their recommendations and demands during today’s session. In the technical-level talks, economic data was shared with the team of the in-ternational lender.
The sources privy to the matter claimed that Pakistan has completed all the conditions of the IMF.
The staff-level agreement will be finalised during the ongoing policy-level talks, the sources said, add-ing that after the successful completion of the first review, around $700 million will be released to Pa-kistan.
IMF review mission had commended the government on its progress toward economic recovery, the finance ministry had said earlier this month.
The IMF loan programme, approved in July, helped avert a sovereign debt default. Under the $3 billion SBA, Pakistan received $1.2 billion from the IMF as the first tranche in July — with the remaining amount subject to two reviews.
Akhtar has also ruled out the possibility of making any requests to the IMF to increase the timeframe or size of the SBA programme.