Pakistan is facing a critical situation as it seeks to revive its stalled Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The $6.5 billion programme is set to expire on June 30, and negotiations for the ninth review, due last November, have not been successful.
Efforts to reach a Staff Level Agreement (SLA) with the IMF have been ongoing, but disagreements persist regarding the conditions set by the Fund. The SLA must be signed before Pakistan unveils its 2023-24 budget on June 9, or the current programme will fail.
According to The News, two options are being considered. The first involves signing the SLA immediately, requesting approval from the IMF Executive Board for the next $1 billion tranche, and extending the EFF programme for a few months to complete the 10th and 11th reviews. The second option is to combine the 9th and 10th reviews, share budgetary figures with the IMF, and sign the SLA after the budget announcement. If approved by parliament, the IMF’s Executive Board could then grant an extension for the completion of the 11th Review by July or August 2023.
However, finding a solution is proving challenging. Maintaining the status quo will not lead to any breakthroughs, and consensus must be reached between Pakistan and the IMF. Political uncertainty, inadequate economic management, and the inability to secure sufficient external financing have hindered progress.
Without an IMF programme, Pakistan’s options are limited. The risk of default would increase, and reserves would remain weak. Although there are options available, such as striking the SLA in the next few days or combining reviews, they are becoming increasingly difficult. Life without the IMF would require seeking financing from other sources at higher costs.
It is crucial for Pakistan to resolve its differences with the IMF and secure the continuation of the EFF programme. Failure to do so would have severe consequences for economic stability and future financing prospects.
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