Pakistan finance minister to meet IMF delegation in Geneva, with bailout stalled

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An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation will meet Pakistan’s finance minister on the sidelines of a conference in Geneva beginning on January 9, a spokesperson of the lender said on Sunday, as Pakistan struggles to restart its bailout program.

The lender is yet to approve the release of $1.1 billion originally due to be disbursed in November last year, leaving Pakistan with only enough foreign exchange reserves to cover one month’s imports.

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“The IMF delegation is expected to meet with Finance Minister (Ishaq) Dar on the sidelines of the Geneva conference to discuss outstanding issues and the path forward,” a spokesperson of the IMF said in a message to Reuters.

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

The floods killed at least 1,700 people and caused billions of dollars of damage to critical infrastructure.

A plan laying out a timeline and the financing of the rebuilding effort has been a sticking point in talks to clear the ninth review that will release $1.1 billion in IMF funds and unlock other international funding too.

Dar has been critical of the IMF lately, publicly saying that the lender was acting “abnormally” in its dealings with Pakistan, which entered the $7 billion bailout program in 2019.

The IMF spokesperson also said its Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had a “constructive call” with Sharif regarding the Geneva conference and supported Pakistan’s efforts to rebuild.

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