Pakistan seeks IMF endorsement of plans - minister
Reuters - Wednesday, November 12
ISLAMABAD, Nov 11 - Pakistan aims to get International Monetary Fund endorsement of its economic programme within 15 days in order to secure funding from other donors, the country's top economic official said on Tuesday.
Acting finance minister Shaukat Tarin did not address the question of whether Pakistan, which is facing a balance of payments crisis, would formally seek IMF help but said it needed The Fund's approval of its plan before others would step in.
" agreed and appreciated our economic programme and social safety net," Tarin told the Senate, according to the state news agency.
"But desire to get it approved by the IMF before providing us the financial facility," said Tarin, the prime minister's top adviser on economics.
Pakistan needs $3.5-4.5 billion quickly to fill a financing gap and $10-15 billion further out to avoid a balance of payment crisis and make adjustments over the next two years.
It has been in talks with the IMF but Tarin and other officials have for days been saying they hope to avoid having to go to the IMF and are trying to secure help from allies and other multilateral lenders.
Tarin told the Senate the government would approach the IMF within the next 10 to 15 days for endorsement of its programme.
"We believe even if we do not go to the IMF for funding, we need its endorsement of our plans," he said.
Tarin and President Asif Ali Zardari travelled to Saudi Arabia last week to seek financial help. Tarin later said Saudi Arabia had given a "positive" response to a Pakistani request for crude oil on deferred payments.
The government has also held out hopes for assistance from the Friends of Pakistan group of allies, which will meet in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 17, although both foreign and Pakistani officials have said it will not be an aid pledging conference.
"It's not a donor group, it's a support group," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq.
Participants at the one-day meeting in Abu Dhabi would set the date and agenda for a ministerial-level meeting, he said.
"It will support Pakistan at multilateral forums. It will assist Pakistan in getting investment from private investors abroad, it will help Pakistan politically," Sadiq said.
Total foreign reserves, including those held by commercial banks, have fallen sharply from a high of $16.5 billion in October last year, to $6.76 billion on Nov. 1, of which the central bank accounted for $3.53 billion.
The central bank's reserves are equivalent to a little more than October's import bill of $3.46 billion.
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