Rating agencies expect Pakistan to receive $1.2 bln from IMF

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Pakistan is expected to secure $1.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund, which may help ease pressure on the nation’s currency and bonds, according to Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Service.

“We assume IMF board approval of Pakistan’s new staff-level agreement with the lender,” said Krisjanis Krustins, a Hong Kong-based director at Fitch. “This will unlock significant additional financing from the IMF and other multilateral and bilateral sources and may well provide a significant confidence boost to the markets.”

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Pakistan’s currency and bonds have been hammered this month as the specter of political uncertainty delaying IMF support for the nation unnerves investors.

The nation is striving to stave off fears it will follow Sri Lanka into a default this year, with the government working to secure billions of dollars from the Washington-based lender and countries like China and Saudi Arabia.

Moody’s expects IMF to disburse the funds in the third quarter, said Grace Lim, a sovereign analyst with the ratings company in Singapore. Still, the risk that Pakistan may not complete its bailout program with the IMF is on the downside as the government may find it difficult to adopt measures to raise revenue, she said.

“Pakistan’s ability to complete the current program and maintain a credible policy path that supports further financing remains highly uncertain, while elevated inflation and a higher cost of living are adding to social and political risks,” Lim said.

Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is dealing with other distractions. Pakistan’s top court canceled an election that placed the national ruling alliance’s candidate as chief minister of the country’s largest province, giving reason for opposition lawmakers led by former premier Imran Khan to renew calls for early elections.

Dollar bonds due in 2031 were indicated 0.4 cents lower at 50.67 on the dollar, while the rupee slid to another record low, falling 1.5 percent to 236.34 against the greenback.

The IMF is seeking assurance Saudi Arabia and other nations will follow through with their funding commitments before approving the loan to Pakistan, according to people familiar with the matter.

Fitch Ratings downgraded the outlook on Pakistan’s credit rating to negative last week, while Moody’s also lowered its outlook in June.

“The IMF loan is a high probability event,” said Carl Wong, head of fixed income at Avenue Asset Management in Hong Kong. “But the odds that Pakistan can get itself out of the trouble is 50:50 as the IMF is just a part of the equation.”

Read more: IMF agrees to resume $1 bln Pakistan loan after tax, fuel hikes

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