ISLAMABAD (AP) — The head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday that it will send a team to Pakistan in the coming weeks after the government requested emergency bailout loans.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde confirmed that Pakistan had requested the loans after meeting with Finance Minister Asad Umar in Indonesia, without saying how much the Pakistanis had asked for.
“An IMF team will visit Islamabad in the coming weeks to initiate discussions for a possible IMF-supported economic program. We look forward to our continuing partnership,” Lagarde said in a statement.
Analysts say Pakistan is seeking $8 billion in loans in order to address a rapidly growing balance of payments crisis. Pakistan is also seeking fresh loans from China, which has already heavily invested in transport and energy, as well as Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan is one of the biggest borrowers in China’s global Belt and Road initiative, taking out billions of dollars in loans in recent years for infrastructure projects. China has pledged more than $60 billion in the form of loans and investments, but Pakistan has not disclosed details about the loans or their terms.
The United States, which strongly influences the IMF, has said it will not finance the repayment of Pakistan’s Chinese loans.
Lagarde said that in considering loan packages, the IMF would “need to have a complete understanding and absolute transparency about the nature, size, and terms of the debt that is bearing on a particular country.”
Pakistan’s currency plunged by around 7 percent earlier this week after word of the loan request was made public. Prices of basic goods have gone up, angering many.
Newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan had initially vowed to curb borrowing, pointing to the massive loans taken out in recent years. But on Wednesday he inaugurated a project to build five million public housing units, and on Thursday he predicted that Pakistan would soon overcome its economic woes.
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