Pakistan on Monday began a final round of talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package to help the country overcome a deepening economic crisis.

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“Technical discussions for an IMF-supported programme have started,” said Khaqan Najeeb, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry.

The talks for the country’s 13th bailout package since the 1980s are scheduled to last for about 10 days.

A deal is likely to be signed in the second week of May.

The previous round of talks was held in November but remained inconclusive.

Pakistan is expecting a bailout package worth up to eight billion dollars, a senior Finance Ministry official said.

Fiscal and monetary policies, the exchange rate and privatisation of loss-making public-sector entities are up for discussion, among other issues, he said.

The economy of the country of 220 million people has been in crisis since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in 2018 due to burgeoning fiscal and current account deficits and a huge dip in tax revenues.

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The IMF team also met with new chief finance advisor Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, whose appointment was seen as a surprise since his predecessor quit immediately after finalising a deal with the IMF.

Former finance minister Asad Umer was criticised for delaying a decision to seek the bailout package.

Pakistan has sought IMF bailouts several times but the conditions attached to the donor agency’s assistance are always unpopular.


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