Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday expressed hope for an early agreement with the IMF to unlock the much-needed foreign loans, a day after the global lender announced its plan to send a staff mission to the cash-strapped nation.
The remarks from Sharif came as the country's economy is precariously tethering with just USD 3.7 billion in foreign reserves, which is considered a critical level by experts.
“I fully expect that an agreement with the IMF will be signed this month and we will get out of these difficulties. And multilateral institutions will also support us,” Sharif said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Green Line Train service here.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Thursday to field its staff mission to Pakistan on January 31 for talks on the ninth quarterly review of a funding program pending for almost four months. The successful completion of the review would release USD 1.2 billion for the country.
It would also open up other channels for loans as friendly countries and multilateral lenders were also waiting for the IMF nod to provide much-needed support to Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also urged the United States to use diplomatic influence to convince the IMF to show a lenient attitude towards Islamabad, amid tough conditions conveyed by the global lender to revive its fund programme.
As the country anxiously waited for the IMF to release its next tranche of a USD 7 billion package, the rupee continued to lose against dollars for the second straight day.
It fell by Rs 24.54 on Thursday and another Rs 7.17 on Friday in the interbank market.
Prime Minister Sharif acknowledged that it was a difficult time, but assured his coalition government was trying day and night to bring the country out of the crisis.
Addressing the same event, Finance Minister Dar blamed the previous government of Imran Khan for the current economic disaster but promised to bring back development and economic growth.
“We will try our best, under PM Shehbaz’s guidance, to bring as many improvements as we can before the upcoming general elections. You can see history to see who brings development and economic growth. We will get back on track,” he said, adding that the task was tough and the distance long.
He urged for the right analysis to see why Pakistan had gone down to the 47th largest economy when it was the 24th largest in 2018 when the government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party completed its tenure.