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IMF asks Pakistan to endorse bailout plan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) wants Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to endorse a new bailout programme for Pakistan as it is wary of inadequate reforms and under-utilisation of resources in the past, a media report said on Thursday.

‘Active political support is required at the highest level to implement essential reforms in Pakistan ... It will be worthwhile to consider the President for co-signing the letter of intent (for any future arrangement),’ IMF's post-evaluation draft report for a new $11.3-billion bailout programme was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

A letter of intent states the policies a borrowing country intends to implement with the help of its financial assistance. It is a standard practice for a recipient country’s finance minister to sign the letter of intent on behalf of the government and the central bank’s governor.

A former State Bank of Pakistan chief told the daily that Presidents never sign letters of intent. The LoI signed in 2008 was administered by then finance minister Shaukat Tarin and former State Bank governor Shamshad Akhtar.

The IMF programme met an untimely end in 2010, with two tranches worth $3.4 billion not disbursed due to Pakistan’s inability to honour written commitments. The reforms that Pakistan did not implement were related to the introduction of a general sales tax regime and ensuring fiscal consolidation and autonomy of the State Bank of Pakistan. An IMF delegation held an informal meeting with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and sought guarantees for implementing crucial reforms in case Islamabad decides to initiate another bailout programme, sources in the finance ministry told the daily.
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