A cabinet member on Thursday said Pakistan's request to lower the requirement of securing USD 6 billion in additional loans had been denied by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), leaving the government with no choice but to try to salvage the agreement.
Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Pasha, in a policy statement delivered during the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, stressed that Pakistan's only choice was to return to the IMF.
According to local media reports, the committee also addressed the idea of invoking the recently passed contempt of the Parliament law against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for his persistent absence during the meeting, which was presided over by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Qaiser Sheikh.
Dr Pasha claimed that Pakistan asked the IMF to take into account lowering the USD 6 billion external funding requirement based on fresh data on the current account deficit, but the Fund declined. The other USD 3 billion was to be arranged after the staff-level agreement, she said, but the IMF insisted on "demonstrating the USD 6 billion". She went on to say that there was an understanding to arrange USD 3 billion before the agreement.
The statement from the Finance minister showed that the IMF has not altered its position despite a call from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
Dr Aisha Pasha replied, "There is no option other than going back to the IMF, and I categorically say there is no Plan B," when asked if there was a backup strategy in the event that negotiations with the IMF fall through.
Dr Pasha's assertion, however, runs counter to Finance Minister Dar's earlier stance that Pakistan should attempt to cope with or without the IMF.
The IMF has already paid USD 3.9 billion of the overall USD 6.5 billion rescue package during the past four years, with the remaining amount depending upon the conclusion of three outstanding reviews.