Premier summons meeting to discuss IMF deal

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan summoned a high-level meeting to discuss the country’s $6 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which was finalised last night following months of negotiations between the two sides.

The government’s deal with the IMF drew heavy criticism from the opposition, as political opponents voiced concerns over an almost certain possibility of higher inflation and slowed economic growth in the coming months as the country implements the loan conditions imposed by the global lender.

A session of the National Assembly is also set to convene later today, where the opposition parties are expected to slam the bailout agreement and voice their concern over rising inflation and slowing growth. 

The latest agreement marks Pakistan’s 22nd bailout with the IMF, as the country struggles to stave off a looming balance-of-payments crisis while its economy teeters due to low growth, soaring inflation, and mounting debt.

“The programme aims to support the authorities´ strategy for stronger and more balanced growth by reducing domestic and external imbalances, improving the business environment, strengthening institutions, increasing transparency, and protecting social spending,” said Ramirez Rigo, head of the IMF delegation, in a statement released late Sunday.

According to Pakistan’s finance adviser Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, the country is set to receive $6 billion from the IMF in addition to $2 to $3 billion from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank over the next three years.

“We have a $12 billion gap in our annual payments and we don´t have the capacity to pay them,” Sheik said in a televised address as he announced the new agreement with the fund.