The International Monetary Fund on Friday said that “considerable progress” was made during talks with cash-strapped Pakistan but did not announce any financial aid for the country.
Islamabad is seeking $1.1 billion (INR 9,074.44 crore) from the international lender – part of its $6 billion (INR 49,496.97 crore) bailout package – to avert economic collapse. The $1.1 billion payment has been stalled since December.
After an International Monetary Fund team left Pakistan on Friday after 10 days of talks with the government, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the payment was delayed because of “routine procedures”, Reuters reported.
In a statement, Pakistan International Monetary Fund Mission Chief Nathan Porter said that the negotiations will continue virtually in the coming days.
Khaqan Najeeb, a former finance ministry adviser, told Reuters that the delay in releasing the much-needed loan is untenable.
Pakistan’s economy has been in dire straits due to dwindling foreign exchange reserves. Analysts fear the reserves would last less than 20 days and warned that any delay in the International Monetary Fund bailout could have damaging consequences.
In January, the year-on-year inflation had risen to a 48-year high, leaving Pakistanis struggling to afford basic food items.
The country’s economic crisis was exacerbated by last year’s devastating floods that displaced nearly 3.3 crore people of its 23 crore population and destroyed crops over large tracts of land.
Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had said that the economic situation was unimaginable. “The conditions we will have to agree to with the IMF are beyond imagination,” he added. “But we will have to agree with the conditions.”
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