Pakistan says IMF conditions not hard

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Islamabad, Nov 10: As the countdown begins for Pakistan to formally request the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package of up to 5 billion dollars, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin has said the IMF's conditions will not be tough.

''The IMF's conditions are not hard. All it wants is that Pakistan should fulfill the promises it makes prior to getting the financial assistance,''the Dawn today quoted him, as saying. Pakistan needs 4 to 5 billion dollar assistance immediately to avert a balance of payment crisis. Mr Tarin said ''Pakistan will provide details of all its projects to the IMF board because the government knows better which areas need funding.'' He said the rupee was heading towards stabilisation and it would gain more value in coming days.

About the arrest of the owners of the country's largest foreign exchange company Munaf Kalia and Javed Khanani on charges of illegal transfer of billions of US dollars abroad, Mr Tarin said the government was taking necessary steps to stop the flight of capital and curb money laundering at a time when the country was facing balance of payments problem.

Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves have fallen from 16.5 billion dollars in October last year to 6.75 billion dollars this month.

Mr Tarin said prices of various items would decline in the next six months and give a breathing space to the government and people.

Overall, he said, the economy would soon start improving.

Answering a question, the Adviser said the ''Friends of Pakistan'', particularly Saudi Arabia and China, were ready to help Pakistan and provide support in different ways.

Saudi Arabia, he said, could help by providing oil on deferred payment.

President Asif Ali Zardari had visited China and Saudi Arabia with the hope of getting assistance in cash as well as technical support to avoid the IMF's non-concessional loans.

However, so far China or Saudi Arabia has not come forward with cash on the table.

Pakistan immediately needs around 5 billion dollars to keep the economy afloat. The loan from the IMF will be under the standby arrangement, carrying higher interest rate than the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility Programme.


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