The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief and former prime minister Imran Khan expressed support for a recently-reached bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after a meeting with officials of the lender on Friday, his party said.
The IMF said it was, in the lead up to general elections in the autumn, seeking the support of the main political parties, including the PTI, for the new nine-month $3 billion stand-by arrangement and policies associated with the programme.
PTI leader and former finance minister Hammad Azhar, who attended the meeting virtually, said in a post on Twitter that the former premier and his economic team had discussed last week’s staff-level deal between the IMF and the government.
“In this context we support the overall objectives and key policies,” Azhar said, adding the meeting at Imran’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore was attended in person by IMF officials while Mission Chief Nathan Porter joined virtually.
The meeting lasted for more than an hour, during which “discussions took place around the staff-level agreement that IMF has reached with the Government of Pakistan for a nine-month $3 billion standby arrangement and in this context, we support the overall objectives and key policies”, the PTI leader said.
“We welcome the SBA (standby arrangement) to preserve macroeconomic stability by anchoring external financing and sound policies ahead of the national elections due in the fall of this year and until a new government is formed.
“We wish to stress the importance of programmes to protect the lower-income segments of the population from high inflation,” he added.
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Azhar further stated that the PTI considered political stability and the rule of law as integral to the economic stability of Pakistan.
“Following free, fair, and timely elections as per the Constitution, a new government mandated by the people will initiate reforms and engage on a longer-term basis with multilateral institutions to further economic transformation, higher and more inclusive growth,” he said.
He also shared that Imran would be shortly delivering an address regarding the matter.
Earlier, the IMF’s resident representative Esther Perez Ruiz said in a statement that the meetings with political parties were to “seek assurances of their support for the key objectives and policies under a new IMF-supported programme ahead of the approaching national elections.”
The new deal, which will be vital to help stabilize the country’s struggling $350 billion economy, will be taken up for approval by the IMF board on July 12.
The programme looks to replace a four-year Extended Financing Facility programme, originally signed by the PTI government in 2019, and which expired last month.
The last government deviated from agreements under an earlier IMF programme days before he was ousted in a parliamentary vote last year, leading to a delay in the implementation of the programme and increased economic uncertainty.
The general elections are scheduled to be held by early November.
The new programme will span three governments – the incumbent set up under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, whose term ends in August, a caretaker administration that will conduct the polls, and then a new government following the elections.
Azhar said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party believed political stability was key for the economy and called for “free, fair and timely” elections after which a new government would initiate reforms and engage on a longer-term basis with multilateral institutions.
The meeting is the highest profile engagement for the PTI chief since he was ousted from power less than four years into his five-year term.
(With additional input from News Desk)