ISLAMABAD  - Crucial talks between Pakistan and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have started here wherein the Fund would review the economic situation of the country for releasing second tranche under Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme worth of $6.4 billion.

Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood has confirmed to The Nation that talks between Pakistan and IMF have kicked off in Islamabad for the economic assessment of the country. The talks would hold two rounds including technical and policy level talks.

IMF would release the second tranche worth of around $550 million in December if it satisfied with economic targets set earlier, sources informed. They further informed that Pakistan might face tough time regarding target of foreign exchange reserves. Pakistan and International Monetary Fund agreed that gross foreign currency reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) should increase to $5.64 billion by the end of September, which stood at $4.824 billion, showing a gap of $816 million.

However, Pakistan is optimistic to receive the second tranche as it believed that government has fulfilled the requirements. “We are satisfied that government has met all the requirements of the IMF that will allow to release the second tranche”, said Rana Asad Amin, advisor and official spokesperson the finance ministry while talking to The Nation the other day.

He dispelled the impression regarding missing foreign reserves target and said, “There was just IMF projection that foreign exchange reserves will stand at $5.64 billion by September 30 that was not a target”.

Asad Rana said, “This gap would bridge if Pakistan received $ 800 million pending amount from Etisalat against the privatization of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)”. This thing (gap of $ 800 million) does not matter, he concluded.

It is worth mentioning here that IMF had already released the first tranche worth of $ 550 million under EFF during the first week of September. However, others tranches would be released after completion of quarterly reviews.