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IMF to revive $6 billion Pakistan funding program

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(Last Updated On: November 22, 2021)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday it has reached an agreement with Pakistan that will help revive a stalled $6 billion funding program for the South Asian country, which faces growing economic challenges.

“The Pakistani authorities and IMF staff have reached a staff-level agreement on policies and reforms needed to complete the sixth review,” the IMF said in a statement.

“The agreement is subject to approval by the Executive Board, following the implementation of prior actions, notably on fiscal and institutional reforms,” it said.

It said completion of the review would make available 750 million in IMF special drawing rights, or approximately $1.059 billion, bringing total disbursements so far to about $3.027 billion, Reuters reported.

Pakistan entered the $6 billion funding program with the IMF in 2019, however, the funding stalled earlier this year due to reforms issues.

Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin said last week Pakistan has been in talks with the IMF over terms and conditions of the program, which he said had been made harder due to economic losses caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

He said Pakistan had to complete five reforms before the IMF revived the funding, including legislation on central bank autonomy, withdrawal of tax exemptions and increased energy tariffs.

The agreement was struck after 45 days of discussions between the finance team and the IMF, a Pakistan finance ministry spokesman said.

“This will remove a lot of uncertainties,” he said.

Pakistan has been grappling with a historical currency devaluation, high inflation and a current account deficit while investors have become nervous about the outcome of the talks between the government and the IMF.

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Pakistan receives $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Pakistan on Saturday received a $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia, the prime minister’s finance adviser said, as part of an economic support package.

The South Asian country has faced growing economic challenges, with high inflation, sliding forex reserves, a widening current account deficit and a depreciating currency, Reuters reported.

Pakistan’s total liquid foreign reserves stand at $22,498.8 million, based on central bank data.

Shaukat Tarin, finance adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan, said in a tweet: “I want to thank His Excellency Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the kind gesture.”

The loan from Saudi Arabia will be for one year at a 4% interest rate under the terms of the package, which was signed last month, Reuters reported.

“This is positive news … and will help bolster both the foreign exchange reserves and sentiments in the forex market,” Saad Hashemy, executive director at BMA Capital said.

The loan comes a week after the International Monetary Fund agreed with Pakistan on measures needed to revive a stalled $6 billion funding program.

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Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city named 2023 World Tourism Capital

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand was chosen as the 2023 World Tourism Capital at the 24th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Spain, Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Samarkand will host the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO, which will be a “historic event” as it marks the first time in history that the gathering will be held in Uzbekistan, read the statement.

The summit in Madrid was attended by a delegation led by Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister.

The opportunity to host a UN organization meeting for the first time is the result of the Uzbek government’s policies and efforts to develop tourism in the country, the statement added.

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Russia, Southeast Asia conclude first joint naval exercise

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have concluded their first joint naval exercise, Indonesia’s navy said on Saturday, as the region faces rising tensions with China.

The three-day exercise off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island aimed at increasing interoperability between the ASEAN member states and the Russian navy in the strategic maritime area. It comes amid rising tensions between major powers in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway of geopolitical significance, Reuters reported.

“The exercise has a strategic impact because it was designed to cultivate friendships between the Indonesian government, ASEAN countries and Russia,” the navy said.

The two-stage drills involved eight warships and four aircraft from Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei.

Aleksei Bolotnikov, commander of the Russian warship Admiral Panteleyev, was quoted as saying he hoped the next ASEAN-Russia exercise could take place in Vladivostok, Reuters reported.

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