Doha, 18 May 2022 (TDI): The government of Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began talks in Doha on Wednesday, according to a tweet from the Ministry of Finance.

“Today, we began discussions with the IMF Mission.” Miftah Ismail, Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Aisha Ghous Pasha, Finance Secretary, Hamed Yaqoob Shaikh, Acting Governor SBP, Dr. Murtaza Syed, Chairman FBR, Asim Ahmad, and senior officers from the Finance Division all participated virtually,” according to the Ministry.

The Finance Ministry had announced a day before that a delegation from the Finance Division had departed for Doha to meet with the IMF mission.

“If negotiations with the IMF are successful, Pakistan’s stalled programme will restart and it will get the next instalment ($1 billion) of the loan.”

It further stated that negotiations with the IMF delegation would be held to evaluate the conditions imposed by the previous PTI administration and seek relief from the fund.

The talks took place for the first time since Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took office in April last month, and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail announced afterward that he had asked the IMF to increase the loan program’s value and term.

He told a Washington news conference that the IMF had essentially agreed, but that official talks were now underway. The talks are scheduled to last until next week.

The cost of subsidies, particularly for fuel and electricity, is likely to be a key sticking point, and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has indicated he wants the two sides to “reach a common ground.”

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan signed a six-billion-dollar IMF bailout plan in 2019. Pakistan has received $3 billion so far, with the programme set to expire later this year.

Officials want the programme to be extended until June 2023, as well as the next $1 billion tranche to be released.

Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistani Prime Minister who came to office with a coalition that ousted Khan in a no-confidence vote last month, has promised to revive the country’s stagnant economy, but critics believe his shaky government has struggled to make tough decisions.

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