ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cleared payment to Pakistan of a final $102 million tranche in a $6.4 billion three-year programme on Thursday, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country was ready to move forward without further IMF support.
IMF officials and Pakistani officials concluded their twelfth and final review in Dubai, with mission chief Harald Finger expressing satisfaction at the progress made by the country’s economy.
The tranche will be released pending approval from the IMF’s executive board, but that step is largely a formality.
“Growth is expected to reach 5 per cent in FY 2016/17, supported by buoyant construction activity, strengthened private sector credit growth, and an investment upturn related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” said Finger, according to a statement released by the IMF.
Involving projects valued at $46 billion, CPEC envisages the construction of infrastructure such as power plants, roads and a port across Pakistan, linking southwestern China to the Arabian Sea.
“In the course of the IMF-supported programme, Pakistan’s economy has made significant progress toward strengthening macroeconomic and financial stability and resilience, and laying foundations for higher, more sustainable, and inclusive growth,” Finger said.
He identified declining exports and delays in power distribution company reform, however, as worthy of concern.
Privatisation of those and other public sector enterprises had been a key part of the programme, but there has been little progress.
The Pakistani delegation in Dubai was led by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who welcomed the conclusion of the programme, which has supported the country’s economic stabilisation agenda.
“Successful completion of the last review is indicative of government’s strong commitment in implementing difficult structural reforms in the areas of taxation, energy, monetary/financial sectors and public sector enterprises,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
In April, Masood Ahmed, the IMF’s director for the Middle East and Central Asia, told Reuters that Pakistan was ready to go it alone once this package concluded.
“They have completed to a large measure the stabilisation agenda that this programme was supporting,” he said.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif echoed that sentiment, saying Pakistan was able to stand on its own feet economically.
“It is now my desire… that we say goodbye to the IMF,” he said, addressing a group of his party’s lawmakers in Islamabad shortly after the announcement of the programme’s conclusion.