Pakistan Finance Minister says expect IMF matters to be settled today

By Ariba Shahid

KARACHI (Reuters) -Pakistan’s finance minister was quoted on Thursday as saying he expects talks with a visiting International Monetary Fund mission to be settled today.

“It is expected that matters will be settled today,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was quoted by Dawn news as saying in Islamabad. “We will give you the news very soon.”

The IMF and Pakistan are in talks over an economic reform deal aimed at releasing critical funds from a stalled $6.5 billion bailout program Pakistan signed up to in 2019.

The funds are crucial for the $350-billion economy facing a balance-of-payments crisis with foreign exchange reserves dipping to less than three weeks of import cover. Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called Pakistan’s economic situation “unimaginable”.

Asked about the talks with the IMF, Dawn quoted Dar as saying “everything is going alright”.

Officials at both the finance ministry and the IMF office in Islamabad did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The IMF mission arrived in Pakistan late last week for the talks, which if successful, would release an overdue tranche of $1.1 billion from the bailout program, leaving $1.4 billion remaining. The program is due to end in June.

The mission is due to wrap up talks on Thursday.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)