Govt seeks IMF waivers amid flood-driven slippages.

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's formal talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the 9th quarterly review of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) have been delayed further amid authorities' request for a series of waivers on performance criteria owing to flood losses and the Fund's push for sticking to committed tax-to-GDP ratio of at least 11pc.

'Circumstances are difficult but we have to remain in the IMF programme and make more structural adjustments,' said State Minister for Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha while testifying before a parliamentary panel. The talks were originally due in the last week of October, rescheduled to Nov 3 and then kept on delaying following gaps in estimates by two sides.

A senior government official said that authorities were in contact with the IMF mission for sharing data on first-quarter performance (July-September) of revenues collection and expenditure overruns so that a formal quarterly review could be arranged in the last week of November. 'Dates are not firmed up yet', he said, adding that the two sides had agreed to complete all issues including exchange of data, gaps in targets versus performance, additional revenue and expenditure measures through virtual engagements so that 'a crisp review is arranged which is not more than of 4-5 days'.

The official explained that the quarterly meetings typically reviewed the backward performance and forward-looking indicators and the overall macroeconomic framework going forward had been adversely impacted by floods. He said the revenue performance in absolute numbers was slightly better than the target. However, as a percentage of GDP, the revenue collection was estimated to be behind the target by 11pc.

Pakistan was behind target by almost 0.8pc of GDP mainly because of rebasing of GDP that enhanced the size of the economy. On the other hand, expenditures had exceeded targets in the first three months and the revenue collection trend appeared to decline because of import compression.

The official said Pakistan had generally requested several waivers on performance criteria but these had to be precisely worked out by the two sides at the staff level. He said a virtual meeting was also expected this week on the issue. Based on Pakistan's specific slippages and demands for adjustments, the IMF mission would firm up its stance and take Pakistan's case to the executive board for approval of the waivers.

Import contraction

Earlier, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Asim...

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