From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : IMF
Mains level : Pakistan economic crisis, Debt trap
The latest IMF press release maintains it would consider an extension of the current Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to end June 2023 and augment the fund amount to $7 billion for Pakistan.
Pakistan seeks IMF bailout
- Surprisingly, it took five months to reach the staff-level agreement.
- The total disbursement under the current EFF to Pakistan has now been $4.2 billion.
- The talks were originally aimed at releasing a tranche of $900 million.
What is Extended Fund Facility (EFF)?
- The EFF was established by the IMF to provide assistance to countries experiencing serious payment imbalances because of structural impediments or slow growth and an inherently weak balance-of-payments position.
- An EFF provides support for comprehensive programs including the policies needed to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.
What was the Pakistani EFF?
- The 39-month EFF between the two was signed in July 2019 to provide funds amounting to Self-Drawing Rights (SDR) — $4,268 million.
- The EFF was signed by Pakistan to address the medium-term balance of payment problem, and work on structural impediments and increase per capita income.
Why did the talks take longer to conclude?
- The IMF placed demands (all of which seem impossible for Pakistan) includes :
- Fiscal consolidation to reduce debt and build resilience
- Market-determined exchange rate to restore competitiveness
- Eliminate ‘quasi-fiscal’ losses in the energy sector and
- Strengthened institutions with transparency
- Ousted Pakistani PM eased fuel prices. This was considered a major deviation under the EFF benchmarks.
- Then govt gave tax amnesties to the industrial sector, impacted the tax regime and a structural benchmark for fiscal consolidation.
- The IMF insisted on its demands before approving any release of the tranche.
How important is the IMF support to Pakistan?
- Pakistan’s economic situation is dire.
- According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2022, the fiscal deficit in FY 22 was $18.6 billion, and the net public debt at $252 billion, which is 66.3% of the GDP.
- The power sector’s circular debt is $14 billion.
Why have the Pakistan-IMF relations remained complicated?
- Structural reforms require long-term commitment, which have been sacrificed due to Pakistan’s short-sighted political goals.
- Hence the urge to go to the IMF for fiscal stability has been repeated over time.
Risks posed by a failed Pakistan
- There is also a narrative that Pakistan has the fifth largest population with nuclear weapons that cannot be allowed to fail.
- A section within Pakistan also places the geo-strategic location of the country would provide an edge for cooperation, rather than coercion.
- Hence, this section believes, the IMF would continue to support.
- Given the IMF’s increased assertion, Pakistan’s political calculations and the elections ahead, the relationship between the two is likely to remain complicated.
What lies ahead for Pakistan and the IMF?
- Despite the latest agreement, the road ahead for the IMF and Pakistan is not an easy one.
- Political calculations and the elections ahead will play a role in Pakistan’s economic decision-making.
- However, one thing is eminent Pakistan will certainly collapse someday badly like Sri Lanka.
Try this PYQ from CSP 2022
“Rapid Financing Instrument” and “Rapid Credit Facility” are related to the provisions of lending by which one of the following?
(a) Asian Development Bank
(b) International Monetary fund
(c) United National Environment Programme Finance initiative
(d) Word bank
Post your answer here.
Back2Basics: Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)
- SDRs, created by the IMF in 1969, are an international reserve asset and are meant to supplement countries’ reserves.
- Adding SDRs to the country’s international reserves makes it more financially resilient.
- Providing liquidity support to developing and low-income countries allows them to tide over the balance of payments (BOP) situations like the one India has been experiencing due to the pandemic and the one it faced earlier in 1991.
- SDRs being one of the components of foreign exchange reserves (FER) of a country, an increase in its holdings is reflected in the BOP.
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