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IMF ready to aid Pakistan in economic reform

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is ready to assist Pakistan, a country currently facing financial constraints, by supporting essential reforms to bolster and stabilise its economy.

Speaking at the sidelines of the annual Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, Jihad Azour, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the IMF, mentioned Pakistan’s interest in initiating a new program to address various significant economic challenges.

Azour reviewed the achievements of a program launched ten months ago that has enabled Pakistan to reach important milestones toward economic stability. He expressed optimism that the successful completion of the last review would soon be presented to the IMF board, concluding a program that has significantly helped Pakistan manage severe economic imbalances and maintain stability.

“Those measures also allowed Pakistan to increase its buffers. Currently, the authorities have expressed interest in a new program in order to help Pakistan address some of the key challenges,” Azour said.

He underscored the need for continuing fiscal efforts to reduce budget deficits and enhance revenue collection—one of the ongoing challenges. Azour stressed the importance of reforms in the energy sector and enhancing the business environment to allow more growth and expansion of the private sector.

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“This is a priority that has been there for some time, but it’s still an important reform dimension for Pakistan,” he said regarding energy sector reforms.

Azour emphasisd that the reform agenda’s effectiveness is more critical than the size of the program. “Markets reaction was positive. We saw additional inflows; reserves have been rebuilt at the level of the central bank and even growth prospects have improved. Therefore, I think what is important at this stage is to accelerate the reforms, and double down on the structural reforms in order to provide Pakistan with its full potential of growth,” he said.

“Yes, we have had several programs, but the priorities are still there and therefore the Fund is ready to assist when the government asks for that. And I think also bilateral partners of Pakistan are looking forward to the program to extend their additional financial support to Pakistan,” Azour said.

Pakistan’s finance minister Muhammad Aurangzeb is also present in the American Capital, attending the IMF meetings and engaging in discussions.

The country, grappling with significant economic and security challenges, recently reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF’s global team on the second and final review of Pakistan’s stabilisation program supported by a USD 3 billion (£2.42 billion) standby arrangement approved last July.

(PTI)

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