IMF approves $1.4 Billion in Emergency Pandemic Aid for Pakistan
In a major support to prop up the declining reserves following the outflow of hot money, the International fund (IMF) on Thursday night approved the disbursement of $1.386 billion to Pakistan under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 shock.
“The Executive Board of the IMF approved a sale of Pakistan under the RFI like SDR 1,015.5 million ($1.386 billion, 50 per cent of quota) to satisfy the urgent balance of payments needs stemming from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the IMF said in a statement.
With the near-term outlook deteriorating sharply, the authorities have swiftly put in place measures to contain the impact of the shock and support economic activity. Crucially, health spending has been increased and social support strengthened.
As the impact of the Covid-19 shock subsides, the authorities’ renewed commitment to implementing the policies within the existing Extended Fund Facility (EFF) will help support the recovery and strengthen resilience, the Fund said.
While uncertainty remains high, the near-term economic impact of Covid-19 is predicted to be significant, giving rise to large fiscal and external financing needs. The IMF support will help provide a backstop against the decline in international reserves and supply financing to the allow targeted and temporary spending increases aimed toward containing the pandemic and mitigating its economic impact.
“The IMF remains closely engaged with the Pakistani authorities and because the impact of the Covid-19 shock subsides will resume discussions as a part of the present EFF,” said the IMF.
Following the chief Board discussion, Geoffrey Okamoto, the primary Deputy director and Acting Chair, said that “the outbreak of Covid-19 has a big impact on the Pakistani economy”. The domestic containment measures, coupled with the global downturn, are severely affecting growth and straining external financing. This has created an urgent balance of payments need, the Fund noted.
In this context of heightened uncertainty, The IMF emergency financing under the Rapid Financing Instrument provides strong support to the authorities’ emergency policy response, preserving fiscal space for essential health spending, shoring up confidence, and catalysing additional donor support.
In response to the crisis, the govt of Pakistan has taken swift action to halt the community spread of the virus and introduced an economic stimulus package aimed toward accommodating the spending needed to tackle the health emergency and supporting economic activity.
Crucially, the authorities are increasing public health spending and strengthening social safety net programmes to provide immediate relief to the most vulnerable. Similarly, the State Bank of Pakistan has adopted a timely set of measures, including lowering of the policy rate and new refinancing facilities, to support liquidity and credit conditions and safeguard financial stability. “In this context, the authorities’ policies should be targeted and temporary,” the IMF emphasised.