Karachi, February 11, 2019 (PPI-OT): Key highlights of the PM’s UAE visit
On sidelines of the 7th World Government Summit (WGS), the PM held meetings with top officials from the UAE government as well as the IMF.
In the WGS speech, the PM highlighted ongoing efforts to improve governance, key export sectors such as tourism and improvements in ease of doing business, while emphatically stating that it is the time for making an investment in Pakistan.
As far as the PM’s talks with the IMF are concerned, we flag that despite all the positive vibes, up until now nothing concrete has been revealed regarding the specifics of a new IMF program.
PM Imran Khan makes Pakistan’s case at WGS in Dubai
On the sidelines of the 7th World Government Summit (WGS) held in Dubai on February 10th, the Prime Minister Imran Khan held meetings with top officials from the UAE government as well as the Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. Although details of any potential upcoming IMF program are yet to meet the public eye, there have been news stories circulating of talks being in penultimate stages of an economic assistance package. A statement on social media from the PM also suggests both the government and IMF being on the same page regarding a need for “deep structural reforms” to take the country into a phase of sustainable development.
Regarding the WGS event, in a typically charismatic speech, the PM addressed world leaders and highlighted Pakistan’s potential which was set to be unlocked in coming years. Key points emphasized in the speech by the PM included (1) improvement in governance which would unlock Pakistan’s true potential, and (2) opportunities in the tourism sector given the country’s topographical blessings. In a bid to attract investment, the PM also assured of a shift in mindsets to cater to investors and allow them to earn profits from their investments. Finally, it was unequivocally stated that things can only get better from here and now is the best time to invest in Pakistan, given that a turnaround is on the cards.
Clarity still missing regarding IMF, despite positive vibes
Despite being on the cusp of a potential economic revival, Pakistan has recently been downgraded by international credit ratings‟ agencies such as Fitch and S and P. In other news, the National Accounts Committee has revised GDP growth for FY18 downwards to 5.2% from 5.8%. If fiscal consolidation measures, which were missing in the mini-budget, have to be implemented (with or without IMF), it will inevitably lead to lower economic growth during the ongoing fiscal year. This would not be too surprising, given that it is now a consensus view that the growth rate would be slower during this year.
At the same time, we concur with the PM‟s statement where he mentions this is the time to invest in Pakistan. We use the premier’s own cricketing analogy regarding risk-takers being rewarded. These are the moments when investments could yield healthy and long-term returns. From a forward perspective, as far as the external account is concerned, SBP‟s FX reserves (see table) could settle at ~US$10.4bn by the end of FY19. We have assumed a current account deficit of US$1bn per month for 2HFY19 and deferred oil facility of US$4bn during the same (we have already utilized US$375mn from IDB). As far as the PM‟s talks with the IMF are concerned, we would again flag that despite all the positive vibes, up until now nothing concrete has been revealed regarding the specifics of a new IMF program.