Islamabad, 26 January 2023 (TDI): The Finance Minister of Pakistan, Ishaq Dar held an official meeting with Robert Kaproth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States (US) Department of the Treasury for Asia.
During the meeting, both dignitaries discussed the status of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. Dar briefed the US official about the measures that Pakistan was taking to revive the IMF program.
He assured Kaproth that the country remained committed to the IMF program. The US deputy assistant treasury secretary appeared to be on a reconnaissance mission to learn more about the country’s boom and bust economic cycles, as well as its commitment to the IMF program.
Remarks by representatives
Talking about Pakistan’s commitment to IMF, the Finance Minter of Pakistan said, “Despite challenging economic conditions, the government is focusing on fixing things in the right direction.”
“We are introducing reforms in all sectors including the energy sector and capital market to achieve economic growth and development.” Dar continued.
The meeting took place amid a sharp decline in foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to their lowest level in over nine years, with only two weeks of import cover.
Dar informed that Pakistan would fulfill its international debt obligations, so it did not opt for Paris Club debt restructuring. He also shared the damages caused by the floods in Pakistan and their impact on the economy of the country.
During his turn, Kaproth underscored good relations between Pakistan and the US and expressed confidence in the policies and programs of the government for economic and financial stability. He extended his support and cooperation on economic and financial issues.
Senior macroeconomist for the Department of Treasury for Pakistan Eva Ghirmai and Financial Attaché Larita Bolden also accompanied the US deputy assistant secretary.
From Pakistan’s side, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Pasha, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance Tariq Bajwa, and Finance Secretary Hamid Sheikh attended the meeting.
Economic crisis in Pakistan
Pakistan made a $500 million payment to a Chinese commercial bank this week. It has now depleted the reserves to the point where they cannot be described as comfortable by any standard.
Pakistan’s monthly import bill is approximately $5.3 billion, and reserves were less than $3.3 billion on Tuesday. The country is expecting some disbursements by Chinese financial institutions soon, as it also awaits the $2 billion Saudi cash deposit “much before the end of January”.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the Ministry of Finance last week to revive the IMF program as soon as possible. It came with the caveat that low-income groups be exempted from the burden that the nation would have to bear in due course.