In the midst of Pakistan’s financial crisis, the IMF country official stated on Friday that the loan program is unrelated to either the province or general elections in Pakistan.
The announcement followed the Pakistani finance ministry’s notification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the nation was experiencing a severe economic crisis and that the government lacked the resources to hold separate elections in the Supreme Court-ordered style in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The election commission also made the decision to postpone the Punjab provincial elections by more than five months earlier this week, citing security and financial concerns.
IMF Statement on Rejection of Elections Connection with Bail-out Package
Esther Perez Ruiz, a resident representative for the IMF, asserted that Pakistan’s institutions alone are in charge of determining the validity, viability, and timing of the province and national elections.
“There is no requirement under Pakistan’s EFF-supported program which could interfere with Pakistan ability to undertake constitutional activities,” she told Arab News.
“Targets under IMF-supported programs are set at the aggregate general government level and within these there is fiscal space to allocate or reprioritize spending and/or raise additional revenues to ensure constitutional activities can take place as required.”
A $1.2 billion bailout tranche from the IMF is urgently needed by Pakistan as part of the $7 billion Extended Financial Facility (EFF) it obtained in 2019.
Since late last year, the country’s lending program has been waiting for its ninth assessment.
The transfer of IMF funding will provide some solace to the South Asian nation suffering from a dollar shortage, which has stoked concerns about the economy contracting in advance of this year’s elections.
In order to put pressure on the government to call early national polls across the nation, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and its supporters dissolved the provincial assemblies of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces in January.
More than half of the nation’s 220 million people reside in these two regions.
The two provincial assemblies must hold new polls within 90 days of their dissolution in accordance with Pakistani law, and Khan’s PTI was betting that the national government couldn’t afford to hold the provincial elections separately from a national election, which is otherwise scheduled for October 2023.
In a historic decision earlier this month, Pakistan’s top court also ordered that general elections in the two provinces take place within 90 days.
After extensive political bickering and negotiation in recent weeks, President Dr. Arif Alvi subsequently declared April 30 as the date for Punjab Assembly elections.
Khan’s party has said that it will appeal the ECP’s decision to delay the elections to the Supreme Court.
To read our blog on “For transparent elections of 2023, Govt. will amend the laws,” click here.