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Second review of SBA with IMF to begin from March 14: Ministry of Finance

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The Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Wednesday that the second review of the Standby Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is scheduled to commence in Islamabad from March 14 to March 18, 2024.

“Pakistan has met all Structural Benchmarks, Qualitative Performance Criteria, and Indicative Targets for successfully completing the IMF review,” said the Ministry of Finance.

It said, “This would be the final review of SBA, and staff-level agreement is expected after this appraisal.”

“Once a staff-level agreement is reached, the final tranche of $1.1 billion will be disbursed, following the approval of the Executive Board of the IMF,” added the ministry.

Reuters reported that the IMF mission would arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday for a second and last review of a $3-billion SBA.

Islamabad secured the last-minute package last summer to avert a sovereign default.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif already directed his finance team, headed by newly-appointed Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, to initiate work on seeking an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) after the standby arrangement expires on April 11.

Aurangzeb had told reporters that the team was arriving this week without mentioning a date. He also said the EFF would entail implications on the budget; therefore, the Fund input, indeed, would be needed.

Aurangzeb said his priority would be that preliminary talks are held on a blueprint (actions to be taken under the EFF). Still, the actual negotiations will be held with the Fund during the spring meeting.

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