NEW YORK: In a major relief for the struggling Pakistan economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated a willingness to relax the tough conditions under which the country signed the loan programme.
This was shared by Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail who is in New York along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to attend the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The Pakistani delegation has held meetings with IMF MD Karistalina Georgieva and World Bank Group President David Malpass on the sidelines of the UNGA and apprised them of the problems faced by the country due to the losses caused by unprecedented floods.
Miftah said that the IMF MD was requested to relax the conditions to which she expressed her willingness to do so.
He said the World Bank has also been approached, adding Pakistan will receive an additional $2 million from the lender this year.
The Imran Khan-led government signed an agreement with the IMF and the PDM’s coalition government had to stick to it, he said. However, the PML-N government achieved some relaxation from the IMF, he added.
The economic situation of Pakistan has changed after the floods that damaged the cotton crops in Sindh, said Miftah. Pakistan will have to import cotton this year, he said.
“Pakistan will have to import wheat as well and it will increase the current account deficit,” the finance minister said.
He also said the incumbent government is doling out Rs25,000 to 4 million flood-affected families each under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
The finance minister rubbished rumours regarding corruption in the flood victims’ fund, saying any such report is false and baseless.
Earlier, acknowledging the difficulties faced by Pakistan, IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva said she had a very constructive meeting with PM Shehbaz Sharif and expressed deep sympathy for the devastation caused by the floods.
“The IMF will continue to support Pakistan under the current programme to help ease the pain of the Pakistani people.”