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Pakistan premier hopes IMF will decide on bailout ‘in a day or two’

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan’s prime minister said yesterday he was hopeful the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will make its decision in a day or two on the fate of the much-needed USD6 billion bailout package for his country.

The remarks by Shahbaz Sharif came after he spoke to IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva, according to a government statement. The two also met last week, on the sidelines of a global financing meeting in Paris.

Talks between Pakistan and the IMF stalled since December, after the global lender delayed the release of the crucial tranche of USD1.1 billion from the bailout. The deal was originally signed in 2019 by Sharif’s predecessor Imran Khan.

The deal envisioned a deadline and if the IMF by Friday decides that Pakistan has not met the terms of the agreement, the fund could cancel the whole bailout package.

Pakistan and the IMF have been at odds over what the fund said is Islamabad’s unsatisfactory compliance with the bailout conditions. Pakistan claims it has fully complied with the conditions.

The Pakistani government is currently struggling to avoid a default with financial help from friendly countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It has also been embroiled in an economic crisis since Sharif replaced Khan, who was ousted last year.

An economic recovery has also been hindered by floods last summer that killed 1,739 people and caused USD30 billion in damage.

Motorcyclists drive through a flooded road in Lahore, Pakistan. PHOTO: AP