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IMF team to visit Pakistan from Jan 31 for talks on 9th review

 An IMF mission will travel to Pakistan later this month to discuss the ninth review of the nation's ongoing loan programme, which has stalled, the lender's resident representative announced on Thursday.

To continue the negotiations under the ninth EFF review, an in-person Fund mission is slated to visit Islamabad from January 31 through February 9 at the invitation of the authorities, according to a message from Esther Ruiz Perez to Reuters.

According to the IMF official, the mission would concentrate on steps to restore internal and international sustainability, including bolstering the fiscal position with long-lasting and effective policies while providing aid to the weak and flood victims.

The representative stated that the Fund would also talk about measures to improve the power sector's viability, stop the growth of circular debt, and restore the forex exchange market's appropriate operation so that the exchange rate can correct the forex shortfall.

In order to reduce the current high level of uncertainty that weighs on the outlook, increase Pakistan's resilience, and secure the financing support from official partners and the markets that is necessary for Pakistan's sustainable development, the IMF official said that stronger policy efforts and reforms are essential. 

The development occurred a day after Pakistan assured the US that it remained committed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. Pakistan's reserves had dropped to just enough to cover a half-worth month's of imports after making a fresh $500 million debt repayment.

As a result of the government releasing its control over the rupee-dollar exchange rate in accordance with an IMF requirement, the Pakistani rupee plunged by Rs24.11 (or 9.45%) to an all-time low of Rs255 versus the US dollar in the interbank market.

According to a formal statement from the Ministry of Finance, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar met Robert Kaproth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury for Asia, on Wednesday. 

The status of the IMF programme was discussed by both parties during the meeting. Dar informed the US official about Pakistan's efforts to reactivate the IMF programme.

Pakistan has been asked by the IMF to create a market-based currency rate, remove import restrictions, raise taxes, and raise electricity rates.

Pakistan signed up for a $7 billion IMF programme in 2019, which was earlier increased to $6 billion. The 9th review of the programme is still ongoing, and remote negotiations between IMF representatives and the government are taking place to release $1.18 billion. 

On November 18, Pakistan and the IMF held a round of negotiations but were unable to agree on a timetable for formal discussions on the past due ninth review. The meetings, which were initially scheduled for the final week of October, were moved to November 3 and then continued to experience delays due to discrepancies in the two parties' estimates.

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