ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Pakistan has asked the International Monetary Fund to delay a Jan. 12 board meeting aimed at reviewing the release of $1 billion from the country’s three-year $6 billion IMF programme, the finance ministry said on Monday.
Pakistan asked for the delay to give its parliament time to pass fiscal tightening measures tied to the funds’ release, Reza Baqir, a former IMF official and current governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
“The government would like to ensure that there is due parliamentary process, so that there is ownership of these laws,” he said.
The finance minister said the IMF board would consider the matter as soon as the legislative procedures were completed, referring to a mid-year budget that slashes a number of duty exemptions and introduces new revenue measures.
An IMF spokesperson confirmed the meeting for consideration and eventual approval of the sixth review of Pakistan’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) was being postponed at the country’s request, and said no new date had yet been set.
The legislation was introduced to parliament late last month, but has met fierce resistance from opposition parties amid rising inflation and a widening current account deficit.
Last week, the government said it was confident it would pass the budget later this month.
Baqir said a delay of 10 to 14 days in access to the funds would not make “much of a difference,” especially given Pakistan’s success in generating revenues from other sources.
He said some $3 billion had come in through a separate programme encouraging Pakistanis living abroad to send money home through official banking channels, not informal channels.
Baqir said that was more than Pakistan had received from the IMF, but added that the IMF funding was important because of the positive signal it sent to other creditors.
(Reporting by Gibran Peshimam; additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Lincoln Feast and Catherine Evans)