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IMF package to be $6-8b: Asad Team due this month in final bailout push.

Islamabad -- Finance Minister Asad Umar revealed on Monday that the bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund would be $6-8 billion. Briefing the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs chaired by Faizullah Kamoka, the finance minister said the IMF finalised a bailout package for Pakistan during talks between the two sides at a recent visit by the Pakistani delegation to the United States.

Pakistan would receive funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank immediately following the IMF bailout, he said. Umar said the IMF package would ease off pressure from the country's foreign reserves.

External account pressure reduced Pakistan's international reserves to $6.6 billion by mid-January 2019, but with short-term financing from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China, foreign reserves increased to $10.5 billion at the end of March.

The finance minister further assured that the capital market would improve following the IMF programme. Umar told the committee that an IMF mission will visit Islamabad during the last week of April, which is when the bailout package amount will be finalised.

Speaking to media later, he said the public will not be impacted by the IMF agreement, and the government has no plans to raise electricity prices.

Umar said he met with Financial Action Task Force President Marshall Billingslea during the US visit, who assured him that any decision would be taken on technical grounds.

Pakistan will send a draft detailing its implementation on FATF's recommendations, he said. A delegation of FATF will visit Pakistan in the third week of May to review the implementation efforts. IMF did not object to an asset declaration scheme proposed by Pakistan, sources said earlier, pointing out that Pakistan had already shared a draft of the proposed scheme with the IMF and the FATF.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday said that it held 'constructive discussions' with Pakistani authorities during last week's spring meetings in Washington and that its mission will be visiting Pakistan 'before the end of April to continue the discussions' on a bailout package.

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.'

Meanwhile, State minister for revenue Hammad Azhar has said that Pakistan has reached an 'agreement in principle' with IMF over bailout package. The staff mission's visit was just aimed at finalizing technical details. 'An agreement in principle has been reached with IMF,' he announced in a tweet, hours after Pakistan's Finance Minister Asad Umar returned home from Washington where he had meetings with the IMF and World Bank.

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Publication:Pakistan Observer (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 16, 2019
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