‘Ready’ to work with new govt, IMF says after receiving PTI letter

‘Ready’ to work with new govt, IMF says after receiving PTI letter

Logo of the IMF can be seen in this undated picture. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday stated that it was ready to work with the Shehbaz Sharif government on the development of a new medium-term economic program, ignoring Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) demand for an audit of election results.

A spokesperson of the Washington-based lender confirmed that it had received a letter from a PTI official sent on Imran Khan’s behalf on February 28 on the Fund’s engagement with Pakistan under the loan program.

“The IMF, as an international institution with a narrow mandate on economic issues, does not comment on domestic political developments. However, given the importance of the institutional environment for economic stability and growth, we do encourage the fair and peaceful resolution of all electoral disputes,” said the spokesperson in a statement.

The IMF official shared that their engagement with Pakistan is focused on helping the government implement strong policies to deepen financial stability, address the longstanding economic and underlying balance of payments challenges, and restore sustained and inclusive growth for the benefit of all Pakistani citizens.

“This includes stronger public finances, through high-quality revenue measures to broaden the tax base while scaling up the support for the most vulnerable, restoring energy sector viability, improving institutional governance and anti-corruption effectiveness, SOE reform, building climate resilience, and creating a level playing field for private businesses to promote investment and job creation,” said the IMF.

The spokesperson said that keeping the above objectives in mind, the lender looks forward to engaging with to complete the second review under the ongoing Stand by Arrangement and support the development of a new medium-term economic program if the government requests it.

The response to the letter by an IMF spokesperson comes hours after the global lender’s Communications Department Director Julie Kozack during a press briefing in Washington, DC shared that the Fund is set to dispatch its mission to Pakistan following the formation of a new cabinet.

Commenting on the IMF mission’s arrival in Pakistan, she said: “The IMF stands ready to hold a mission for the second review of the Stand-by shortly after a new cabinet is formed.”

Last week, the PTI asked the IMF to factor in the country’s political stability in any further bailout talks.

In its letter to the Fund, as per PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan, the party maintained that the February 8 general elections were subjected to “widespread intervention and fraud in the counting of votes and compilation of results”.

“In view of the policies and principles the IMF stands for, there should be no doubt that the abuse of power by a small number of holders of public office to impose their likes and dislikes on Pakistan’s populace as aforesaid, and thus to ensure their continuing personal gain, would not be promoted or upheld by the IMF,” PTI alleged.

The letter was also dispatched at a time when newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, after assuming the top office for the second consecutive time, issued directives to immediately enter negotiations with the IMF for a new loan under its Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

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