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IMF board to meet on Feb 2 for Pakistan's sixth review

26 Jan, 2022
The delay comes after the IMF had earlier posted that its Executive Board would take up Pakistan's sixth review on January 28. Photo file
The delay comes after the IMF had earlier posted that its Executive Board would take up Pakistan's sixth review on January 28. Photo file

In yet another development, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Executive Board will now meet on February 2 for Pakistan's sixth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), showed an updated website of the Washington-based lender late Tuesday night.

The calendar had earlier showed that the sixth review would be held on January 28.

However, the discussion titled, 'Pakistan - 2021 Article IV Consultation, Sixth Review Under the Extended Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility, and Requests for Waivers of Nonobservance of Performance Criteria and Rephasing of Access' would now be held next week on Wednesday (February 2), according to the IMF website.

The delay comes after the IMF had earlier posted that its Executive Board would take up Pakistan's sixth review on January 28. This date itself was after Pakistan's finance ministry had requested that the meeting be moved to the end of January. Earlier, it was announced that the sixth review of the $6-billion EFF would be held on January 12.

While the IMF says that the "calendar is subject to change, and that the agenda for each meeting is typically finalized the day before the meeting", in Pakistan's case, dates have danced around ever since Pakistan and the lender reached a staff-level agreement in November last year.

SBP (Amendment) Bill 2021 remains an issue

The staff-level agreement was on policies and reforms needed to complete the sixth review under the $6-billion EFF that started in 2019 but was put on hold in 2020.

Since then, Pakistan has moved to meet key conditions of the IMF programme including passing the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021 and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the National Assembly.

While the government enforced the Finance (Supplementary) Act, 2022 to withdraw sales tax exemptions to the tune of Rs 343 billion from January 16, 2022, it is the SBP (Amendment) Bill that remains the issue.

Approval of both Houses of Parliament remains a prior condition of the IMF on the SBP Amendment Bill 2021, reports suggest.

Completion of the review would make available SDR 750 million (about $1,059 million), bringing total disbursements under the EFF to about $3,027 million.

The story was originally published in Business Recorder on January 26, 2022.