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Pakistan finance minister cites technical reasons for IMF bailout delay

Ishaq Dar also clarified that his recent comments about Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme were taken out of context

Pakistan finance minister Ishaq Dar (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Pakistan’s finance minister Ishaq Dar explained on Monday (20) that technical reasons caused the delay in reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He also clarified that his recent comments about Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme were taken out of context.

The IMF has denied attaching any strings related to Pakistan’s nuclear programme to the revival of the country’s stalled bailout programme.

Dar had previously stated that there would be no compromise on Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme, in response to questions about the delay in reaching an agreement with the IMF.

Dar clarified in a press statement that his recent comments regarding Pakistan’s nuclear programme were in response to a specific question from a colleague senator.

Dar also stated in a press release that neither the IMF nor any other country has imposed any conditions or demands on Pakistan’s nuclear capability. He explained that the delay in reaching an agreement with the IMF was solely due to technical issues, which they are working to resolve as soon as possible.

Pakistan is waiting for a $1.1 billion funding tranche from the IMF, which was originally scheduled for November 2022. The funds are part of a $6.5 billion bailout package approved in 2019, critical to avoid defaulting on external debt obligations. Pakistan’s economy is in crisis due to high external debt, a weak currency, and low foreign exchange reserves.

Esther Perez Ruiz, IMF’s representative in Islamabad, denied any link between Pakistan’s nuclear programme and the IMF’s loan programme, stating that discussions have only focused on economic policies to solve Pakistan’s economy and balance of payments problems.

Ruiz’s statement comes in response to rumours of strings attached to the External Fund Facility (EFF) and the delay in the ninth review under the IMF-supported programme.

The IMF has been negotiating with Pakistan since early February to finalise the deal, which includes policy measures to manage the fiscal deficit ahead of the annual budget due around June.

(With inputs from PTI)

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