IMF may delay Pakistan visit as bailout talks continue

Islamabad: The visit of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Islamabad for finalising a bailout package for Pakistan may be delayed as both sides are still engaged in an intense discussion on the proposed programme, official sources told Dawn news.

Finance Minister Asad Umar said earlier this month that the mission would visit Islamabad soon after the spring meetings of the World Bank Group, which includes the IMF and an agreement should be signed by the end of this month.

The meetings, held in Washington this week, ended on Sunday.

At a news briefing in Washington on the night of April 11, Umar said the two sides had “more or less, reached an understanding” on the bailout package and “in a day or two, we hope to reach a full agreement”.

But it seems that “both sides are still engaged in an intense conversation on the final details of that full agreement”, an official source told Dawn on Sunday. “So, the IMF mission is now more likely to visit Islamabad in May, not April.”

Another official familiar with the Pakistan-IMF talks said: “Islamabad still hopes to conclude the agreement before June, as they believe the bailout package would help budget prospects.”

When asked how much money did Pakistan expect from the IMF, a source said: “The amount and length of the programme also depends on the nature of the package.

“If the conditions are too restrictive, Pakistan would expect a larger package, i.e. more assistance for a longer period.”

The IMF has also insisted on full disclosure of all financial cooperation between Pakistan and China, including assistance related to infrastructure development, nuclear power plants, joint manufacturing of JF-17 Thunder fighter jets and procurement of submarines.

It is also demanding details of more than $6.5 billion of commercial loans Pakistan has received from China in the past two and a half years.