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Pakistan moves closer to securing IMF deal as UAE likely to commit funds soon

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  • IMF likely to get written guarantee from UAE this week.
  • Matters have been finalised with UAE authorities, sources say.
  • Finance secretary will inform IMF officials about the development.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is moving closer to securing its loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as United Arab Emirates (UAE) is likely to assure the global lender that it will provide a $1 billion financing to help the nation avoid a default by this week, Geo News reported citing sources.

The sources said that the UAE is likely to provide a written guarantee regarding $1 billion financing this week and the news will be conveyed to the Fund officials by the Finance Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh during the annual meeting currently being held in Washington.

The IMF has asked Pakistan to secure assurances on external financing from friendly countries and multilateral partners to fund its balance of payment gap for this fiscal year, which ends in June.

Last week, Saudi Arabia pledged $2 billion and informed the IMF it will provide financing to Pakistan. However, the agreement with the IMF still rests on a similar commitment from the UAE for a $1 billion loan.

Well-placed sources in the Ministry of Finance confirmed that matters have been finalised with the UAE and as as soon Pakistan receives a written guarantee from the Washington-based lender will receive confirmation.

The development comes after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar requested the UAE officials in order to complete the prerequisites of the Fund.

The cash-strapped nation of 220 million people is going through one of its biggest economic crises in history as it raised interest rates to an all-time high after consumer prices quickened to a fresh record. 

IMF lowers growth forecast

Meanwhile, IMF has cut its growth forecast for the country to 0.5% from the 2% estimate earlier as the nation faces a dollar shortage, leading to supply chain disruptions and companies stopping production.

The Fund is also assessing the coalition government’s proposed fuel discount that it plans for lower income groups by raising fuel prices for wealthy motorists; however, the finance minister had said that IMF has been provided with all required information.

Dar — who cancelled his trip to Washington where he was scheduled to hold in-person meetings with the IMF officials on the sidelines — has time and again claimed that the staff-level agreement with the Washington-based lender would be reached soon; however, the claims have proved to be futile.

Islamabad has been hosting an IMF mission since late January to negotiate a series of policy measures to secure $1.1 billion in funding for the cash-strapped economy, which is on the verge of collapse.

The funds are part of a $6.5 billion bailout package the IMF approved in 2019, which analysts say is critical for Pakistan to avert defaulting on external payment obligations.

The deal will also unlock other bilateral and multilateral financing avenues for Pakistan to shore up its foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to four weeks’ worth of import cover, and help it steer out of a balance of payment crisis.

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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Pakistan currently has $14.38 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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Pakistan’s commercial banks’ reserves, which stood at $5.28 billion at the conclusion of the week ending on June 7, rose by US$174 million, according to a central bank statement.

Reserving US$6.2 million less, the SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves. The causes for the decline in the reserves it had were not disclosed by the central bank.

The SBP released a statement that stated, “SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on 07-June-2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves were reduced by US$ 63 million as a result of repaying external debt, with the reserves standing at US$ 9.093 billion as of earlier on June 6.

The central bank spokesperson said in a statement that as of the week that concluded on May 31, the nation’s total liquid foreign reserves were $14.31 billion.

In terms of net foreign reserves, commercial banks have US$ 5.22 billion of the overall foreign reserves, according to the SBP.

SBP reserves dropped by US$ 63 million to US$ 9,093.7 million during the week that ended on May 24, 2024, according to the announcement.

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In the local market, the price of gold plummets to Rs240,700/tola.

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Gold with a 24-karat purity level has dropped by Rs1200/tola on the local market.

Each tola of 24-karat gold is now selling for Rs240,700, with a further drop of Rs1029 bringing the price of 10 kilos of gold to Rs206,361. These figures are courtesy of the All Sarafa and Jewelers Association.

Meanwhile, after a $2 decline on the global market, one ounce of gold will be valued $2315.

A tola of gold was worth Rs 600 more on Wednesday.

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