Islamabad, 4 November 2023 (TDI): The International Monetary Fund (IMF) held a significant meeting with Pakistani authorities, to discuss Pakistan’s election and functioning of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) raising key issues that impact the country’s political and economic landscapes.

During the meeting, Nathan Porter, the IMF’s mission chief to Pakistan, discussed the next general elections and the functioning of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

The discussions took place in the maiden meeting between Porter and interim Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar. Porter set the tone for the 14-day long review talks, which are scheduled to conclude on November 15, provided everything proceeds as planned.

The IMF mission chief commended the government’s performance during the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year, particularly highlighting the achievements of the finance ministry and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Highlighting the key developments, first the IMF expressed interest in the schedule for the next general elections, as this has a direct impact on Pakistan’s political landscape. A definitive election date has implications for future IMF program reviews and potential new agreements with the Washington-based lender.

Secondly, the IMF inquired about the functioning and effectiveness of the SIFC, a civil-military body aimed at attracting foreign investment to Pakistan. There have been concerns about its focus on structural issues, and the IMF sought insights into its progress.

Also Read: World Bank and IMF address climate crisis

The interim finance minister, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, pledged to facilitate meetings between the IMF delegation and key stakeholders, including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the SIFC secretariat.

President Dr. Arif Alvi and the ECP recently announced February 8 as the elections date, providing clarity on the country’s political future, which is closely linked to the IMF program.

The IMF program is currently in its first review phase, which began discussions for the approval of a $710 million loan tranche by the IMF’s executive board in December.

The discussions also covered several critical areas, including energy sector reforms, tax reforms, and the Circular Debt Management Plan, which is aimed at controlling the circular debt in the power sector.