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October 15, 2019

Hafeez flies to US to attend IMF/WB annual meeting

Top Story

October 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has flown to US for attending annual meeting of IMF/World Bank this week and on sidelines he will finalise schedule of next IMF review mission.

Top official sources pointed out that the World Bank presented horrifying report about Pakistan’s economy indicating lowest real GDP growth of 2.4 percent, public debt crossing 80 percent of GDP and surge in poverty in fiscal year 2019-20 will give negative message to international bond market amid Islamabad’s plan to launch international bonds such as Eurobond and Sukuk bond worth $3 billion next month.

It was quite interesting that Abdul Hafeez Shaikh pointed out positive points on economic front by reducing trade deficit, curtailing budget deficit and picking up of economic activities on last Saturday but the WB report resulted into evaporating all positive gains just in one go.

The next IMF review is scheduled to take place by end of the ongoing month but the IMF side is still indecisive about the venue of the proposed review meeting. Although, Pakistani authorities insist that the IMF review mission would visit Islamabad by end of the ongoing month, but the IMF had not yet granted security clearance to its staff for visiting Islamabad at a time when different religio-political parties are planning to go ahead with ‘Azadi March’.

Abdul Hafeez Shaikh will lead Pakistani delegation in the annual meeting of IMF/World Bank scheduled to be held at Washington DC this week. Pakistan’s delegation will be comprised of Minister of State of Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch, Secretary EAD Noor Ahmed and Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir. About Hammad Azhar, who is currently in Paris for attending FATF review meeting, the sources confirmed that he would be flown to Washington after attending FATF meeting in Paris.

Pakistani authorities are confident that they had delivered successfully on structural benchmark condition envisaged for first quarter of the current fiscal year under the IMF programme but independent economists say that Islamabad would have to seek two waivers for ensuring release of next tranche under 39 months Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

A top official of Finance Division said when inquired whether petroleum levy was part of non-tax revenue collection, said it was part of non-tax revenue but under classification of budget documents, it was part of taxes on international trade and others.

The petroleum levy is part of taxes but it is outside the NFC composition. The official said that two instalments of non-tax revenue including SBP profit of Rs185 billion and renewal of licence of mobile operators to the tune of Rs70 billion made real difference in first quarter of 2019-20 compared to the same period of the last financial year in order to slash down budget deficit.