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Pak seeks largest loan package from IMF: Report

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IMF

On Tuesday, the IMF said that it would listen to Pakistan’s request for financial support “very, very attentively”, as it did with any member with good standing.

 

Islamabad | Pakistan is seeking its largest loan package of up to USD 8 billion from the IMF to bail itself out from a severe balance-of-payments crisis that threatens to cripple the country’s economy, a media report said Thursday.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) could place strict conditionalities, forcing Pakistan to seek additional loans for meeting those restrictions and this could expand the loan facility to USD 12 billion, said the report in the Dawn newspaper.

Pakistan began exploring the possibility of yet another loan package with the IMF while the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) PML-N was still in power and the exploratory talks continued under the interim government as well, it said.

The final decision, however, was announced on Monday night when Finance Minister Asad Umar confirmed that the government was going to the IMF to bail Pakistan out of its foreign currency crisis.

The announcement followed the highest single-day loss in a decade in the stock market, which plunged by over 1,300 points, losing almost Rs 270 billion of its capitalization.

On Tuesday, the IMF said that it would listen to Pakistan’s request for financial support “very, very attentively”, as it did with any member with good standing.

Pakistan has received more than a dozen financial support packages from the institution in the past. It completed the last three-year package of USD 6.4 billion in August 2016, which was 216 percent of Pakistan’s quota at the IMF.

Meanwhile, the government came under heavy criticism after announcing that it would seek bailout assistance from the IMF, but Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday defended the decision.

Khan said that the country was burdened due to debts incurred by the previous government and his government was constrained to borrow more money to pay back those debts.

“There has been a lot of noise in the country during the last 48 hours as if the heave is going to fall. But we need to do it before our reforms start yielding results in about six months,” he said.

The government’s decision will create hardships for Khan as the IMF’s tough conditions will result in the price hike.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa resigns as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister

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Rajapaksa

Colombo | Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in a controversial move, resigned on Saturday as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman’s efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

Rajapaksa informed the lawmakers of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that he has resigned from the post, MP Shehan Semasinghe told reporters. Rajapaksa was appointed as the prime minister on October 26 by President Sirisena in a controversial move after sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe, which plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay a court order restraining Mahinda, 73, from holding the office of Prime Minister until it fully heard the case next month. The apex court on Thursday unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by Sirisena was “illegal”.

Pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, had told reporters that Mahinda decided in a meeting on Friday with President Sirisena to resign to allow the President to appoint a new government.

Wickremesinghe is expected to take oath as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister on Sunday.

President Maithripala Sirisena has reportedly agreed to reinstate ousted Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in the post after a discussion with him over the phone on Friday.

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UN envoy says ‘robust monitoring regime’ urgently needed in Yemen

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Yemen; robust

United Nations | UN special envoy Martin Griffiths on Friday urged the creation of a “robust and competent monitoring regime” in war-ravaged Yemen, one day after fighting parties agreed to a ceasefire at a vital port.

“A robust and competent monitoring regime is not just essential. It is also urgently needed,” Griffiths told the Security Council, adding that “allowing the UN the lead role in the ports is the vital first step”.

If implemented, the deal on Hodeida port, a key gateway for aid and food imports, could bring relief to a country where 14 million people stand on the brink of famine.

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Australia recognises west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

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Scott Morrison; Israel

Sydney | Australia now recognises west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.

Morrison also committed to recognising the aspirations for a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal.

The prime minister said it was in Australia’s interests to support “liberal democracy” in the Middle East and took aim at the United Nations he said was a place Israel is “bullied”.

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