In a meeting held between Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Tuesday, it was emphasized that the upcoming budget, scheduled to be presented on June 9, should strictly adhere to the parameters set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

PM Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his optimism about reaching an agreement with the IMF, dispelling media reports suggesting a populist budget typically seen in election years.

An informed source, who was present during the meeting, highlighted that Pakistan cannot afford to deviate from the IMF’s prescribed principles in the budget. The PM’s resolve to adhere to these guidelines was reinforced after his recent telephonic conversation with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. It was during this conversation that PM Shehbaz Sharif personally appealed to Georgieva to revive the stalled $6.5 billion bailout package.

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The discussion between the PM and the IMF Managing Director took place due to the finance ministry’s inability to break the deadlock over loan talks in the past four months. However, the source disclosed that PM Shehbaz Sharif expressed satisfaction after his conversation with Georgieva, leading to an agreement to share the budget details with the IMF.

Furthermore, the IMF Managing Director indicated the possibility of a revival of the programme. This positive development prompted PM Shehbaz Sharif to inform the Turkish media during his visit to Ankara that Pakistan remains hopeful of finalising a deal with the IMF this month. He assured that Pakistan had met all the required conditions and that the upcoming budget would align with the terms and conditions set forth by the IMF.

“We are still very hopeful that the IMF programme will materialise. Our ninth review by the IMF will match all terms and conditions, and hopefully, we’ll have some good news this month,” PM Shehbaz Sharif stated during an interview with Anadolu in Ankara, where he was present for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration ceremony.

According to Geo, the PM further clarified that while some actions are typically met after the board’s approval, this time, the IMF insisted on meeting those actions before granting approval. He affirmed that Pakistan has fulfilled these requirements as specified by the IMF.

As the budget presentation approaches, all eyes are now on the Ministry of Finance, which has been tasked with ensuring strict compliance with IMF parameters. With the PM’s renewed optimism and the positive signals received from the IMF, there is a growing sense of hope that Pakistan will be able to secure the much-needed financial support to address its economic challenges.

It remains to be seen how the upcoming budget will reflect the government’s commitment to IMF compliance and whether it will lead to a successful conclusion of negotiations with the international financial institution.