Pakistan promises IMF reforms as flood damage estimated at over $16bn

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pakistan’s finance minister has pledged international lenders to stick with economic reforms despite a new estimate that his country needs more than $16 billion quickly to recover from devastating floods.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also said a flood donors’ conference promised by French President Emmanuel Macron would take place next month, which he hoped would help Pakistan meet immediate needs and longer term.

In late August, the International Monetary Fund released $1.1 billion to Pakistan as part of a $6 billion package sealed in 2019 as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s new government pushed through reforms.

“It will be our effort, even at the cost of extra effort, to carry out the program,” Dar told AFP in an interview Friday (October 14) in Washington.

This “sends a positive signal to the international community and to the markets”, he said, expressing his appreciation for other nations’ “very responsive” pledges to Pakistan.

Dar – who took the job for the fourth time last month after his predecessor left – acknowledged the political risks.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, has plotted a comeback amid protests seeking a snap election.

At the end of his term, Khan slashed petrol prices, defying his own government’s package with the IMF, which says subsidies should only benefit the most needy as Pakistan struggles to put money in place. order in its finances.

Dar said some of his political allies had advocated letting Khan stay longer to deal with the consequences of the economic crisis.

“It would have been selfish to have a political approach,” Dar said.

BILLIONS NEEDED AFTER FLOODS

The new government took over to deal with unprecedented monsoon rains that submerged a third of Pakistan – the world’s fifth most populous country.

These disasters are expected to worsen in coming years due to climate change, even though Pakistan contributes less than one percent to global warming carbon emissions.

Dar said a new study commissioned in part by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank found that Pakistan had suffered $32.4 billion in flood losses and would need $16.2 billion to recover. reconstruction and rehabilitation.

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