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October 11, 2018
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IMF, Pakistan to meet as Islamabad seeks bailout

IMF chief Christine Lagarde speaking at a press conference in Indonesia.

NUSA DUA, INDONESIA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she would meet with Pakistani officials on Thursday, with expectations that Islamabad will request a bailout of its shaky economy.

Pakistani Finance minister Asad Umar, who is attending the fund's annual meeting in Bali, announced earlier this week that the government would seek talks with the IMF on a "stabilisation recovery programme".

Lagarde said the IMF was yet to receive anything formal from Islamabad but that she and other IMF officials would meet with the Pakistani delegation in Bali on Thursday afternoon.

"I'm assuming that there might be a programme request on their part, but that has not been discussed and we will explore that this afternoon," she told a press briefing.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday vowed to steer the country out of a looming balance-of-payments crisis, saying it needs $10-12 billion.

"We will get out of this. I will take (the country) out of this," he said.

Khan's new administration took office in August vowing to weigh up whether to seek an IMF bailout as it sought other avenues of financing.

He has sought loans from friendly countries, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists' warnings have grown increasingly urgent.

Pakistan has gone to the IMF several times since the late 1980s. The most recent was in 2013, when Islamabad got a $6.6 billion loan to tackle a similar crisis.

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