ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will take fiscal measures set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to meet its budgetary targets for the 2022-23 financial year, finance minister Ishaq Dar said on Wednesday.
The measures included reviewing subsidies in the farming and export sectors and shedding energy sector debt, he said.
The minister told a news conference in Islamabad that a “detailed discussion” had taken place with the IMF on the sidelines of a climate conference in Geneva on Monday, where the lender had emphasized a need to take the fiscal measures.
A 9th IMF review to clear the release of the next tranche of funds to Pakistan has been pending since September, as the country faces a severe economic crisis with its central bank foreign reserves falling to a critical level of below $5 billion, which is barely enough for three months of imports.
“They (IMF) think that we should take some fiscal measures, like if there are some un-budgeted subsidies,” he said, adding the latest discussion had narrowed down the issues on the IMF’s agenda.
“We will achieve all our budgetary targets,” he said.
Dar said that the IMF had taken up the subsidies in the export and farmers sectors and the energy reforms, adding: “We will do it but it wouldn’t burden any common man, it will be very targeted and categorical.” The minister did not elaborate on whether the subsidies would be cut or withdrawn altogether, saying it would be worked out, adding that the gas sector debt would be reduced from dividends of the companies.
Pakistan’s power regulator has already allowed Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to hike rates up to 75 per cent, which is subject to cabinet approval.
The IMF approved the seventh and eights reviews of Pakistan’s bailout programme, agreed in 2019, together in August to allow the release of more than $1.1 billion.
Pakistan secured a $6 billion bailout in 2019, that was topped up with another $1 billion earlier this year.