ISLAMABAD: In order to meet another condition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government has successfully managed to get the State Bank (Amendment) Bill 2021 cleared from the Upper House of Parliament despite the majority of the Opposition benches in the house. The bill was the last stumbling block in reviving the stalled programme.
There were eight senators belonging to the Opposition who remained absent from the crucial Senate meeting.
Following the clearance of the bill, all prior conditions of the Fund have now been fulfilled by Pakistan, including approval of the mini-budget and SBP bill.
It is pertinent to mention that the SBP bill was passed with a majority of just one vote as 43 senators voted in favour of the government’s tabled bill while 42 senators voted against it.
The IMF’s Executive Board is now scheduled to consider Pakistan’s request for completion of the sixth Review and release of a $1 billion tranche under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) on February 2, 2022, in Washington DC.
Keeping in view the requests from Pakistan, the IMF had postponed its Executive Board meetings thrice this month.
The IMF board meeting was postponed last time from January 28 to February 2, 2022. The loan programme has been stalled since April 2021; hence, the sixth review will be completed after nine months.
Meanwhile, the next review (seventh) under the $6 billion EFF programme will be due in April 2022. The last and final eighth review is expected to be done in September 2022.
Despite objections raised by the parliamentarians as well as independent economists, the government passed the SBP Amendment Bill 2021 with the objective of targeting inflation and ignoring growth objectives, slapping a ban on borrowing of government, abolishing Monetary and Fiscal Coordination Board, extending the tenure of governor SBP from three to five years with the possibility of one more extension of five years.
There were some interesting scenes on the occasion of approving the controversial State Bank (Amendment) Bill 2021 as Senator Dilawar Khan, sitting on the opposition benches, voted in favour of the government.
With the all-out support of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, the government managed to bulldoze the crucial bill successfully despite a strong protest from the Opposition members.