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Pakistan talks ongoing, further discussion needed on structural reforms: IMF

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IMF spokesman Gerry Rice declines to say if disbursements under $6 billion financing program had been halted

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is holding open, constructive discussions with Pakistan as part of a sixth review of the country’s 39-month, $6 billion financing program that began in 2019, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.

Rice declined to say if disbursements under that program had been halted, but said further discussions were needed about Pakistan’s fiscal spending plans, structural reforms, particularly in the tax and energy sectors, and social spending.

IMF staff were unable to complete the talks during a recent mission, but the global lender remained “fully engaged” and aimed to resume the discussions in the period ahead, Rice told a regular IMF briefing.

“We stand ready to continue to support Pakistan,” he said. “As the recovery gains strength, it will be important to accelerate the implementation of policies and reforms needed to address some of the long-standing challenges facing the Pakistani economy.”

Pakistan this month set a target of 4.8% growth in gross domestic product for the 2021-22 financial year and a fiscal deficit target of 6.3%.

The country, which borders India, Afghanistan and Iran, surpassed growth projections in the 2020-21 financial year despite a third wave of COVID-19 infections, reaching GDP growth of 3.96%, after a 0.47% contraction in 2019-20. Curtesy Reuters

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