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IMF board releases over $1.1 billion in Pakistan bailout funds

Reuters
IMF board releases over $1.1 billion in Pakistan bailout funds

EVACUATION. A family puts their belongings on higher ground as they travel, following rain and floods during the monsoon season in Sohbatpur, Pakistan, August 29, 2022.

Amer Hussain/Reuters

The funds will be a lifeline to the South Asian country suffering from devastating floods

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board approved the seventh and eighth reviews of Pakistan’s bailout program, allowing for a release of over $1.1 billion to the cash-strapped economy, the fund and the government said on Monday, August 29.

The IMF agreed to extend the program by a year and increase the total funding by 720 million special drawing rights, or about $940 million as per the current exchange.

The funds will be a lifeline to the South Asian country suffering from devastating floods which have inflicted damage of at least $10 billion according to the country’s planning minister.

In a statement, IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Sayeh said adhering to scheduled increases in fuel levies and energy tariffs is “essential” as Pakistan’s economy “has been buffeted by adverse external conditions.” These include “spillovers from the war in Ukraine, and domestic challenges, including from accommodative policies that resulted in uneven and unbalanced growth,” he noted.

The floods were not mentioned in the fund’s statement.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen to levels that cover only a month of exports and its economy is wrangled with a massive current account deficit and high inflation.

The fund announced the approval and the amount to be disbursed hours after Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had broken the news via Twitter.

The Extended Fund Facility program was initially for 36 months and worth $6 billion at the time of its approval in 2019. It had stalled since earlier this year as Islamabad struggled to meet targets set by the lender.

The IMF board also approved Pakistan’s request for waivers related to the country’s failure to meet some of the program’s criteria.

Ismail also said government efforts to get the program back on track via painful corrective economic measures had saved Pakistan from default.

The go-ahead from the IMF board will open other multilateral and bilateral avenues of funding for Pakistan, which were awaiting a clean bill of health from the lender. – Rappler.com

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