FinMin Aurangzeb eyes ‘permanence’ in macro stability

FinMin Aurangzeb eyes ‘permanence’ in macro stability

Pakistan is in a good position ahead of second and final IMF SBA review, says finance minister

Newly appointed Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzaib, poses after taking oath in Islamabad, on March 11, 2024. — Ministry of Finance
  • Aurangzeb says 2024’s first quarter better than 2023.
  • “There is macro stability, exchange rate is also stable.”
  • Finance minister says will reduce leakages in revenue.

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb is aiming to ensure that Pakistan moves towards permanent macro stability, which would later turn into growth as the nation faces financial constraints.

“The first quarter of 2024 is better than the first quarter of 2023. GDP is better, there is macroeconomic stability, the exchange rate is also stable. We will now have to make this macro stability permanent,” Aurangzeb told Geo News’ Shahzeb Khanzada on Wednesday.

The debt-ridden economy, which shrank 0.2% last year and is expected to grow around 2% this year, has been under extreme stress with low reserves, a balance of payment crisis, inflation at 23%, policy interest rates at 22% and record local currency depreciation.

Aurangzeb, a veteran banker who has served at Pakistan’s largest commercial banks, took oath as the finance minister on March 11, and faces an uphill task to stabilise the economy.

In the interview, the newly-appointed finance minister said he would reduce the leakages in revenue and cut expenditure in the PSDP through public-private partnership.

For expanding revenue, he said successive governments so far haven’t tapped China’s bond market, hoping that Pakistan would enter it in the ongoing year.

Ahead of the second and final review of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) $3 billion Standby Agreement (SBA), he said that Pakistan is in a good position in terms of fulfilling prerequisites.

The Fund will hold the second review of the SBA this week, the finance ministry and the IMF said earlier in the day, during which the government will also ask for a new longer-term bailout.

The four-day review begins on Thursday and if successful, the IMF will release a final tranche of around $1.1 billion secured by Islamabad under a last-gasp rescue package last summer, averting a sovereign debt default.

“Pakistan has met all structural benchmarks, qualitative performance criteria and indicative targets for successful completion of the IMF review,” the ministry added, hoping for a successful IMF staff level agreement after the appraisal.

In conversation with reporters a day earlier, the finance minister said Tuesday that Pakistan would seek a “large and long programme” from the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

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