Pakistani PM warns of ‘tough times’ to meet IMF conditions

Pakistani PM warns of ‘tough times’ to meet IMF conditions

  • Post category:Economy

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister warned Friday of “difficult times” as his government struggles to meet conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for the next tranche of the country’s bailout package.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was speaking to an auditorium of senior government and military officials in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where 101 people were killed and 225 injured on Monday in a mass suicide attack on a mosque in a compound of high police and government security. . Most of these victims were police officers.

The attack has raised serious questions about the ability of Pakistani security forces to deal with the recent surge of militancy in the volatile northwest along the border with Afghanistan.

Sharif spoke of his bailout just days after IMF officials and Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar resumed talks in the capital Islamabad – even as the country’s foreign exchange reserves continue to dwindle and are now at dangerously low level of $3 billion.

Analysts say that’s barely enough to pay the import bill for the next three weeks.

Pakistan is seeking a crucial $1.1 billion tranche from the fund – part of its $6 billion bailout – to avoid default. Talks with the IMF on reviving the bailout have stalled in recent months.

The IMF gave the finance minister “a very tough time” in the talks, Sharif said.

“Our economic challenges are unimaginable right now,” he added. “The IMF conditions that we have to meet…beyond our imagination. … But we have no other option.

Later on Friday, the Pakistani currency continued to decline, with the rupee trading at 270 to the dollar as markets closed. Last week it was trading at 255 to the $1.

Sharif repeatedly promised that his government would not default but would manage to secure the IMF loan.

Apart from the unprecedented economic crisis, Pakistan is also grappling with the aftermath of last summer’s devastating floods, which caused up to $40 billion in damage and made it difficult for the government to meet some IMF demands. , in particular the rise in gas and electricity prices. and new taxes.

Sharif has often blamed former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government for the country’s economic woes. Khan was ousted by a vote of no confidence in parliament in April and has been fighting for a snap election ever since.

Munir Ahmed, Associated Press


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