September 7, 2023
Finance Pakistan

Pakistan finance minister cancels Washington trip

Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, announced on Saturday that he had cancelled his scheduled trip to attend the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington. This decision was made on the orders of the Prime Minister, due to the current political situation in the country.

Despite not attending in person, Dar stated that he would participate in important bilateral and multilateral meetings virtually. Additionally, a Pakistani delegation would be present in Washington.

Pakistan is facing the risk of defaulting on its debt, as the International Monetary Fund bailout program has been stalled since November. Meanwhile, a fierce political battle is ongoing between the government and former Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

In a televised address, Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, explained that the crisis in the country had been intensified by a recent Supreme Court ruling. The ruling had rejected the government’s plans to postpone the upcoming elections for two provincial assemblies scheduled for next month. This decision has resulted in a standoff between the government and the court.

Dar went on to state that Pakistan was facing a complicated situation and, due to these circumstances, he had decided to cancel his physical attendance at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, as instructed by the Prime Minister.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, denied reports linking the cancellation of his trip to the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington to the delay in the country’s IMF bailout program.

Dar emphasized that the Supreme Court’s demand for the government to provide 21 billion Pakistani rupees ($74 million) to the election authorities by Monday had created a “constitutional crisis”. This demand has complicated the political situation in the country and has led to the cancellation of Dar’s trip.

Regarding the IMF bailout, Ishaq Dar stated that Pakistan had fulfilled all of the requirements of the program review, which was necessary for the release of more than $1.1 billion in crucial funding for the financially strained country.

Dar also revealed that only one country had yet to confirm its commitment to provide Pakistan with $1 billion to support its external account requirements, while another country had already pledged to provide $2 billion. However, he did not disclose the names of these countries.

Earlier, Pakistan’s junior finance minister had indicated that Saudi Arabia had communicated its intention to the IMF to extend financial support to Pakistan.

According to local media reports, Saudi Arabia has committed to providing $2 billion in financial aid to Pakistan, while the United Arab Emirates has yet to confirm a commitment of $1 billion.

Dar stated that once the remaining $1 billion was confirmed, a staff-level agreement would be reached, and he denied that there were any other outstanding issues.

Pakistan is in an urgent need of financial assistance as its foreign exchange reserves currently stand at around $4.2 billion, which is only sufficient to cover imports for one month.

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