Cash-strapped Pakistan is seeking around $11 billion from China and Saudi Arabia as part of efforts to fill external- and domestic resource gaps so that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout programme remains on track to ensure economic stability until an elected government is formed in the country, according to a media report on September 29.
It comes amid the caretaker government's push for expanding the tax net effectively to retail, agricultural and real estate sectors while continuing a crackdown on illegal currency movements.
The Dawn newspaper reported that this information was part of a detailed policy statement issued by caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, presided over by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla in Islamabad on September 28.
She said the government was currently working on an economic revival plan that would be presented to the caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar soon and shared with the Senate Standing Committee on Finance.
She said the caretaker government had a limited scope to undertake deep-rooted structural reforms but promised to deliver on reforms that were part of the IMF programme to ensure the disbursement of a $700 million loan instalment. Talks with the IMF would begin by the end of October on this.
The IMF reached a staff-level agreement with Pakistan on a nine-month Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) of about $3 billion in June. The Finance Minister said it was the government’s priority to deliver on the IMF programme to ensure economic stability and continuity.
On the external financing gap, Ms. Akhtar said the country’s financing needs were still higher, but with the joint efforts of all stakeholders, the government would be able to secure disbursements from the project pipeline and also revive some policy-based financing from multilaterals.
“External flows would improve with the $700 million flows from the IMF. For net bilateral financing of $11 billion, China and Saudi Arabia had been requested along with a request for a Saudi oil facility,” she said.
“To meet the external financing requirements, we are working to secure concessional funding from multilaterals (the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank) of $6.3 billion,” she said in her written statement, adding that the IMF had already approved $3 billion and bilateral assistance of around $10 billion was also expected.
At the same time, Ms. Akhtar warned that a “key risk to external stability comes from the rise in international commodity prices”, as Brent crude oil prices jumped to $95 per barrel in September, an increase of 27% from $74 per barrel in June.
“The public debt rose sharply over the last two years, mainly because of devaluations and interest rate hikes. She deplored that even the debt relief from G20 countries for the poor nations had also been consumed without ensuring high-return investments,” the paper said.
She said the authorities were also working on amending laws to bring retail, agriculture and real estate into an effective tax net because no government could ever control twin deficits without doing this.
Ms. Akhtar said the caretaker government was seeking support from courts to get the pending cases resolved to generate an additional Rs.3 (Pakistani rupee) trillion.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) recently announced it would hold the election in the last week of January after finalising the setting up of electoral districts in light of the data of the census, which was held earlier this year.