Market foresees 100-200bps policy rate hike.

KARACHI -- After the complete surrender by the PMLN-led coalition government to meeting the IMF conditions for the revival of the programme, the financial market looks firm that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) would increase the interest rate in the range of 150 to 200 basis points in the next monetary policy to be announced on Monday.

State Minister for Finance Aisha Ghouse Pasha said on Thursday that the government was ready to implement all conditions to bail out the economy with IMF help.

Bankers, financial experts and analysts expect a hike in the SBP's policy rate keeping in view the surging inflation which hit 24.5 per cent in December 2022, but they are not sure about the size.

The IMF conditions include a market-based exchange rate, an increase in electricity and gas prices and the imposition of new taxes to generate sufficient liquidity to compensate for the first quarter fiscal slippages.

After the implementation of IMF conditions, the state minister warned that things would change and it would not be business as usual. Some analysts said this is a clear indication that the SBP policy rate would be increased to get some control over inflation, but at the same time, the IMF conditions would generate much more inflation with electricity and gas price hikes.

However, the current economic situation has created serious confusion among the stakeholders, particularly in the absence of any solution. A researcher said the country would default with or without IMF since the remedy being asked is short-term and the term may expire within three to six months.

'If the SBP adopts a cautious approach and lifts the rate by 50 to 100bps, it would have to jack up the lending cost by another 100bps within a month since the IMF conditions are prone to accelerate interest rates,' he observed.

Samiullah Tariq, head of research at Pak-Kuwait Investment and Development, said that he expects an increase of 150bps to counter inflation and external pressure.

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