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Monday September 25, 2023

IMF gets ready to discuss FY24 budget targets with Pakistan

IMF mission chief rules out possibility of combining ninth and tenth reviews as of now

By Business Desk
May 04, 2023
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is displayed outside its headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2022. — AFP
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is displayed outside its headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2022. — AFP

KARACHI: As part of a long-awaited bailout tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Pakistan, the lender is preparing to discuss budget plans for the fiscal year 2023-24, a foreign news agency reported on Thursday.

Budget talks, including discussion over the fiscal deficit, are one of the last hurdles before the Washington-based lender approves a staff-level agreement to release $1.1 billion in funding, which has been delayed for months.

In response to a question about the possibility of combining the ninth and tenth reviews in light of the imminent end of the latest programme, Nathan Porter, IMF mission chief to Pakistan, said that the current baseline is to proceed sequentially with reviews.

"In all IMF programmes, the authorities issue a letter of intent associated with the last review outlining their policy intentions for the period after the programme," said Nathan Porter, mission chief to Pakistan.

A successful staff-level agreement for the ninth review, which has been pending since November, will unlock the $1.1 billion tranche. The funding is part of a $6.5 billion bailout package the IMF approved in 2019, which is due to end in June, prior to the budget.

The finance ministry did not immediately respond to the publication's request for a comment.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar reiterated that Pakistan has already complied with all the prior actions for the ninth review with the IMF.

Sources in the Ministry of Finance told Geo News that the government is planning to present the federal budget 2023-24 in the National Assembly on June 9 or 10.

The sources said that the government would be convening key meetings relating to the federal budget, starting with the Annual Plan Coordi­nation Committee (APCC) in mid-May. It will prepare the outline of the development budget.

They added said that the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) — under the chair of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif — regarding the federal budget will be held in the first week of June.