Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2018
United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the US would closely be watching whether the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bails out Pakistan — a key player in China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, and right now in need of a bailout.
“Make no mistake, we will be watching what the IMF does,” Pompeo stated in an interview to CNBC after saying that he would welcome mutually beneficial engagement between the US and Pakistan.
“There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars — and associated with that, American dollars that are part of the IMF funding — to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself,” he added, signifying that Pakistan’s new government, which is severely in need of a bailout, might run into further financial troubles after taking oath.
All indicators suggest the Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf’s government — which is likely to take oath next month — will immediately have to approach the IMF for what would be the country’s 13th bailout from the fund.
“Exports are down, debt is up, the macro indicators are pretty poor,” says Sehar Tariq with the US Institute of Peace.
According to the Financial Times, senior Pakistani finance officials are drawing up options for Khan to seek an IMF bailout of up to $12 billion. In a Reuters report on Tuesday, however, an IMF spokesperson said : “We have so far not received a request for a fund arrangement from Pakistan and we have not had discussions with the authorities about any possible intentions.”
The other option may be further borrowing from China.
Through OBOR’s flagship project China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan has taken numerous loans from its trading partner China, which economists have warned the country will face difficulty in paying back.
According to a report in Dawn on Monday, China has agreed to pour in some extra foreign exchange on top of the CPEC funding and the rupee rise since the July 25 polls is being linked to this. The size of official inflows is $2 billion. Of this, $1bn has already come into our accounts, top bankers said while confirming media reports.