Finance Minister Ishaq Dar reiterated his commitment to completing a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a meeting on the sidelines of a climate conference in Geneva on Monday, the finance ministry said in a statement.
Dar and IMF officials “discussed challenges to regional economies in the wake of climate change”, according to the statement following the meeting’s conclusion. “[The] finance minister reiterated the commitment to complete the Fund program,” it added.
“It was a good meeting but I do not have any statements to make,” Athanasios Arvanitis, deputy director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, told Reuters immediately after it ended.
The IMF has yet to approve the release of $1.1 billion originally due to be disbursed in November last year, leaving Pakistan with only enough foreign exchange reserves to cover one month’s imports.
French President Emmanuel Macron said at the conference that Paris was ready to support Pakistan in its talks with financial institutions.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (UNSG) earlier called for sweeping reform of the international financial system to allow countries vulnerable to climate calamities to receive adequate funding from richer nations.
During his earlier address to the climate conference, Dar said Pakistan was committed to its international obligations. He asserted that the country was on track with its macroeconomic fiscal agenda which he said focused on increasing revenues, spending on social sector programmes, decreasing expenditure and creating more fiscal space for reconstruction and rehabilitation.
“Right now, Pakistan is facing challenges on account of additional outlays, incurred and projected for the flood-related rescue and rehabilitation needs.
“Pakistan is carrying out the necessary fiscal reforms but we believe we urgently need short-term assistance as we navigate a number of challenges,” Dar highlighted.
“Our urgent expectation is not merely a commitment for resources but we are also looking at our own budget inflows and assistance during the remainder of the current fiscal year in order for the government to continue to provide relief,” he said.
During his press conference with the UNSG, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also expressed Pakistan’s commitment to complete the IMF programme. At the same time, however, he wondered how the Fund could expect him to pass on the burden of inflation to the citizenry that was still reeling from floods.
“This not in line with the norms of justice and fair play,” he said, adding that he had asked the IMF to provide Pakistan with a “pause and some breathing space”.
The prime minister said the above was an “ongoing process” and the country would be one day able to convince with Fund using “logic and facts”. Nonetheless, he reiterated that the government would comply with the conditions of the IMF programme.