Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb expressed optimism on Friday regarding the possibility of reaching a Staff-Level Agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Aurangzeb noted that while there have not been final discussions with the IMF yet, he remains hopeful for a positive outcome.

The current $3 billion standby arrangement with the IMF is set to expire on April 11, prompting discussions for a new agreement. Last week, the two sides reached a staff-level agreement concerning the disbursement of the final tranche of $1.1 billion. The minister has reiterated the government’s intention to pursue a “larger and longer” bailout package from the IMF.

Speaking at the gong ceremony at the Pakistan Stock Exchange, Aurangzeb outlined that further details of the agreement would be discussed during the spring meetings in Washington, where a delegation led by him is scheduled to attend around April 14-15.

Aurangzeb emphasized the government’s request to enter into an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program during SLA discussions, highlighting the importance of execution in implementing structural reform agendas.

“We need the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to execute the structural reform agenda,” Aurangzeb stated, stressing the significance of operational effectiveness over mere policy debates. He further emphasized the need for continuity in macroeconomic stability, citing the importance of the previous SLA.

Addressing the implementation of reforms, Aurangzeb outlined a two-pronged strategy focusing on short to medium-term measures to address gaps and leakages and phasing in structural reforms for the medium to longer-term.

FBR

Highlighting challenges within the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Aurangzeb mentioned the need for enhanced implementation, particularly in areas such as the Track and Trace system. He also emphasized efforts to expedite decisions on pending litigations to ensure timely execution.

Additionally, Aurangzeb discussed plans for digitalization within the FBR, including the issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a consultant with experience in emerging markets like Pakistan, aimed at enhancing the efficiency and transparency of the tax system.

TRADE WITH INDIA

On the topic of trade relations with India, Aurangzeb stated that no decision had been brought to his table yet, indicating that the mattereb ultimately rests with the prime minister, cabinet, and parliament.

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