Pakistan’s finance minister meets IMF in Geneva, with bailout stalled

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

By Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation will meet Pakistan’s finance minister on the sidelines of a conference in Geneva starting on January 9, a spokesman for the lender said. Sunday, as Pakistan struggled to restart its relief program.

The lender has yet to approve the $1.1 billion disbursement originally scheduled to be disbursed last November, leaving Pakistan with only enough foreign exchange reserves to cover imports for a month.

“The IMF delegation is scheduled to meet Finance Minister (Ishaq) Dar on the sidelines of the Geneva conference to discuss emerging issues and the way forward,” an IMF spokesman said in a statement. message to Reuters.

The conference in Geneva, co-hosted by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, will seek to gather international support for the country in the aftermath of last year’s devastating floods.

Flooding has killed at least 1,700 people and caused billions of dollars in damage to critical infrastructure.

A plan that outlines a timetable and funding for the reconstruction effort has been a key point in negotiations to pass a ninth review that will free up $1.1 billion in IMF funds and unlock other international funding sources.

Dar recently criticized the IMF, publicly saying the lender had acted “irregularly” in its dealings with Pakistan, which joined a $7 billion bailout program in 2019.

The IMF spokeswoman also said the organization’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had a “constructive call” with Sharif regarding the Geneva conference and supported Pakistan’s reconstruction efforts.

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