Pakistan ‘will absolutely not default’, says Finance Minister

By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday asserted that the country was not on the verge of a financial crisis and “will absolutely not default”.
Dar’s remarks comes amid growing fears of default, propelled by the country’s declining remittances and foreign exchange reserves, as well as a prolonged delay in reaching an accord with the International Monetary Fund for the release of a $1.1 billion tranche out of a $6.5bn loan package.
Addressing the fears during a gathering at the Federal Board of Revenue in Islamabad, the finance minister commended his economic team for its “efforts and hard work”, pointing out that the country had recorded a current account surplus for the months of March and April at $750 million and $18m, respectively.
Regarding the ongoing negotiations with the IMF for release of the long-awaited bailout tranche, Dar said his team had completed all the technical work and prior actions required for the completion of the ninth review.
He stressed that there was a “sincere effort” on his and his team’s part to complete the IMF’s ongoing programme and said they delay was “unfortunate”.
The review should have been completed earlier, he added.
Dar said the country had repaid $5.5 billion of its commercial loans. Of those, he said China had rolled over $2bn once it “understood” that Pakistan had completed its requirements for the release of funds by the IMF.
Regarding the rest of the $3.5bn from non-Chinese commercial banks, Dar said: “We are expecting that a substantial part of that [loan] facility will be returned once the [IMF] staff level agreement or board meeting is completed because it is always renewed and they (banks) are always there to do business.”