Pakistan's Finance Minister Asad Umar. File/AFP
Pakistan's finance minister Asad Umar has stepped down from cabinet, he announced Thursday, ahead of securing a crucial bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Umar, one of cricketer-turned-premier Imran Khan's most powerful ministers, had been entrusted with the task of negotiating the long-delayed bailout as Pakistan's cash-strapped economy faces a balance-of-payments crisis.
"As part of a cabinet reshuffle, PM desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance," Asad Umar tweeted.
"However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position. I strongly believe @ImranKhanPTI is the best hope for Pakistan and inshallah (God willing) will make a naya (new) pakistan," he wrote.
There was no immediate statement from Khan's office or confirmation of who would replace Umar, and it was not clear how Umar's absence would impact the deal.
Pakistan has gone to the IMF repeatedly since the late 1980s, and last received an IMF bailout in 2013 to the tune of $6.6 billion.
Umar has said often that a deal is coming soon, and that it will be the last one.
Earlier this week Hammad Azhar, a state minister for revenue, tweeted that Umar had reached an "agreement in principle" on an IMF deal during a recent trip to Washington, with the agreement to be finalised later this month.
Experts have warned that any tough measures imposed by the IMF could impact Khan's grand plans for an Islamic welfare state in Pakistan.
Forecasts by the IMF and World Bank suggest the Pakistani economy is likely to grow between 4.0 and 4.5 percent for the fiscal year ending June 2019, compared to 5.8 percent growth in the last fiscal year.
The United Arab Emirates, Pakistan's largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major investment sources, recently offered $3 billion to support Pakistan's battered economy.
Islamabad also secured $6 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia and struck a 12-month deal for a cash lifeline during Khan's visit to the kingdom in October.
It has also received billions of dollars in Chinese loans to finance ambitious infrastructure projects.
Pakistan has reached an “agreement in principle” with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a bailout programme and expects to formally secure a rescue package later this month, a Pakistani minister said on Monday. The long-delayed rescue package would be Pakistan’s 13th IMF bailout programme
A delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Pakistan on Monday to continue discussions for a relief package. According to adviser and spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, Dr Khaqan Najeeb, the IMF team will meet officials of the Ministry, the Federal Board of Revenue and the State Bank during its visit to Pakistan.
Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar on Thursday said that talks with International Monetary Fund (IMF) are at the final stage and its details would soon be shared with the parliament. The senate was informed that remittances this year will increase to $22 billion breaking the stagnant mode of the previous years.
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