The government is working to get its talks with the IMF on the right track. Today (Thursday), it will be holding talks with the IMF on policy.
An IMF delegation is in Pakistan on a two-week visit. The delegation has already met the finance adviser and other senior Pakistani government officials and is scheduled to hold another series of meetings.
It has already held technical talks and been briefed on what Pakistan is doing to control the fiscal deficit, speed up privatisation and its amnesty scheme. The delegation also discussed with Pakistani officials the reasons for Pakistan’s low tax collection rates and how to fix them. They also discussed gas and electricity prices in the country.
We are hopeful that the talks will progress quickly, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Hafeez Sheikh said. He is heading the Pakistani team meeting the IMF, while the Fund’s team is being headed by mission chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo.
The Pakistani delegation is also includes three additional secretaries and a senior joint secretary from the finance ministry.
The visiting IMF mission will stay in Islamabad to conclude the technical details by May 6, while the policy level understanding will be reached over the next three days. Pakistan is negotiating a loan package from the IMF but it hasn’t been finalised yet. Experts say the IMF would set difficult economic reform targets for Pakistan including a free-float exchange rate, which may result in further depreciation of the rupee. However, others argue the rupee has already depreciated enough to reach its real value against the dollar.