'Existing gaps narrowed': IMF negotiations nearing conclusion, says Asad Umar

Finance minister says Pakistan will be among world's top five economies by the end of this century

Irshad Ansari February 21, 2019
Finance Minster Asad Umar. PHOTO: PTI

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar on Thursday said negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were still ongoing but nearing conclusion.

"We are still holding discussions with the IMF. Talks are now being held on a regular basis. There were two technical sessions last week in which progress was made on various fronts," the minister said during an informal interaction with journalists after an event in Islamabad.

Umar acknowledged that differences still existed between the two negotiating parties but said he was hopeful they would be resolved.

"Increased and regular interaction allowed for better communication and greater exchange of data. This has helped us narrow the existing gaps," said the minister.

To a query regarding the next visit by an IMF mission, Umar said it would likely take place at a later stage. "We will now invite a regular IMF mission when the negotiations are all but done," he told reporters.

The minister also spoke on the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) recent review of Pakistan's performance on compliance with global guidelines against terror financing and money laundering.

He said an official statement on this week's review in Paris would be issued within a day's time.

In his address at the event earlier, the finance minister condemned New Delhi's decision to hike duties on Pakistani goods, saying that the move would prove detrimental to Indian interests in the long run.

Reflecting on Pakistan's prospects for economic growth, Umar said it was imperative to instill professionalism in the country's public sector.

The finance minister, however, struck quite a positive note on the country's future. "Today, Pakistan is fortunate to have a leadership that has a vision for its future. If that vision materialises, then I can guarantee that Pakistan will be among the world's top five economies by the end of this century."


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