Pakistan and IMF will begin talks in Doha

ISLAMABAD:  A Pakistani government delegation is in Doha for a crucial meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss the release of vital funds worth USD1 billion, reviving the USD6 billion bailout package and bringing certainty and speed to the country's economic reform, which has been in free fall in recent weeks.

The talks are anticipated to last through next week, with Pakistan attempting to persuade the IMF to restart the present loan programme and extend its term with extra credit facilities, which are badly needed to help Pakistan overcome its current economic crisis.

The talks, however, are not expected to go smoothly for Pakistan because the IMF has made stringent requests, including that Islamabad cease all subsidies and implement severe measures, which would result in enormous inflation in the country.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Minister of State Dr. Aisha Ghous Pasha, Finance Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Shaikh, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) acting Governor Dr. Murtaza Syed, Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Asim Ahmed, and other officials from the Finance Division make up the Pakistani delegation.

"The administration will try to persuade the IMF that keeping at least some of the subsidies is necessary for political stability," says economic expert Shahrukh Wani. The IMF, on the other hand, is likely to demand that the Pakistani delegation reduce all subsidies in order to close the trade deficit.

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