IMF board approves $700 mln loan as part of Pakistan bailout

The South Asian country is operating under a caretaker government after the IMF loan programme, approved in July, helped avert a sovereign debt default

By Reuters

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People commute on a road in Islamabad on July 11, 2023. Under the bailout deal, the IMF also got Pakistan to raise $1.34 billion in new taxation to meet fiscal adjustments. —AFP
People commute on a road in Islamabad on July 11, 2023. Under the bailout deal, the IMF also got Pakistan to raise $1.34 billion in new taxation to meet fiscal adjustments. —AFP

Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 11:01 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Jan 2024, 10:47 PM

The International Monetary Fund's board has approved a roughly $700 million loan for Pakistan under a $3 billion bailout, the finance ministry said.

The IMF's completion of its first review of the programme allows for an immediate disbursement of special drawing rights worth around $700 million, bringing the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion, the ministry said on social media platform X.

The South Asian country is operating under a caretaker government after the IMF loan programme, approved in July, helped avert a sovereign debt default.

Ahead of the bailout, Pakistan had to undertake a slew of measures demanded by the IMF, including revising its budget, a hike in its benchmark interest rate, and increases in electricity and natural gas prices.

An IMF mission led by Pakistan mission chief Nathan Porter concluded its visit in November. It reviewed whether Pakistan was on track to meet benchmarks set under the SBA agreed in July and signed a staff level agreement.

Under the bailout deal, the IMF also got Pakistan to raise $1.34 billion in new taxation to meet fiscal adjustments. The measures fuelled all-time high inflation of 38% year-on-year in May, the highest in Asia, which is still hovering above 30%.

"IMF funding along with recent inflows from multilateral lenders will further help the Pakistani rupee, that is fairly stable (over the) last few months," said Mohammad Sohail, CEO of Topline Securities.

He added that this new tranche would help Pakistan in getting rollovers from friendly countries like the United Arab Emirates, China and Saudi Arabia and ease external debt repayment pressure.

Pakistan's international bonds, which had already clocked healthy gains earlier on Thursday, soared after the announcement. The 2036 issue enjoyed the biggest gains, jumping 3.5 cents to trade at 62.59 cents in the dollar, Tradeweb data showed.

Pakistan's caretaker government, under interim Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, is meant to oversee a general election.

Caretaker governments are usually limited to overseeing elections, but Kakar's set-up is the most empowered in Pakistan's history thanks to recent legislation that allows it to make policy decisions on economic matters.

The legislation is aimed at keeping on track the conditions for the bailout secured in June.

"At a time where there are uncertainties on Pakistan's upcoming elections, this IMF board decision will provide some confidence to other lenders and markets," said Sohail.

Elections in the politically and economically troubled country have been scheduled for Feb. 8 after several delays. Last week the senate passed a non-binding resolution to further delay the elections, citing security concerns and a harsh winter in northern areas.


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