The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rejected Pakistan’s claim that the conditions of its program were responsible for the postponement of elections in Punjab, stating that Islamabad has the right to reprioritize expenditure or raise additional taxes to meet constitutional obligations. The lender’s Resident Representative, Esther Perez Ruiz, emphasized that there is no requirement under Pakistan’s EFF-supported program that could interfere with the country’s ability to undertake constitutional activities.
Ruiz’s response also indicated the lender’s insistence on staying out of domestic politics, reminding the government that decisions regarding the constitutionality, feasibility, and timing of elections rest solely with Pakistan’s institutions. She added that the IMF sets aggregate general government targets, and within these, there is fiscal space to allocate or reprioritize spending and/or raise additional revenues to ensure constitutional activities can take place as required.
This statement comes after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced the postponement of elections in Punjab. It is also the second time in four days that the IMF has refuted Pakistan’s claim that it interfered in matters outside the scope of the $6.5 billion bailout package, refusing to support the coalition government’s narrative as it struggles to remain in power.
Ruiz’s response implies that the trust gap between Pakistan and the IMF is widening due to Islamabad’s inability to meet its international and domestic constitutional obligations while attempting to blame the global lender for its own setbacks.
The IMF program discussions have so far focused solely on economic policies to solve Pakistan’s economic and balance of payments problems, in line with the global lender’s mandate to promote macroeconomic and financial stability. However, due to communication lapses/delays and unwarranted narrative-building stunts, talks between Pakistan and the IMF remain stalled.