Pakistan is facing an uncertain economic future as it enters 2023, with a number of challenges and difficulties on the horizon. The country has struggled with rising prices and a deteriorating balance of payments crisis, which has been exacerbated by summer floods and ongoing political uncertainty. These issues have led to a decline in the country’s economic outlook, with the risk of a deeper recession on the horizon.
One of the main challenges facing Pakistan is its relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country has been seeking a loan from the IMF in order to address its dollar liquidity crisis, but the organization has postponed the ninth review of Pakistan’s bailout program due to differences over the country’s post-flood fiscal projections. This delay has led to concerns over the government’s ability to make timely foreign debt payments without an early restoration of the IMF funding program.
Pakistan’s central bank has seen its liquid foreign exchange reserves drop to their lowest level in eight years, at just over $6 billion, and there are concerns about the country’s ability to meet its external financing needs for the current fiscal year, which are estimated at nearly $34 billion. The government has said that it expects increased financing from other lenders, including China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, but this may not be enough to address the country’s financial struggles.
The country’s currency, the Pakistani rupee, has weakened by more than 27% this year and hit its weakest level against the dollar in July, reflecting the country’s fragile financial situation. Credit rating agencies have downgraded Pakistan’s ratings due to growing external vulnerabilities, and the country is at risk of default due to delays in the restoration of the IMF loan program and tensions between the lender and Pakistan over unmet targets.
The IMF’s program is intended to stabilize Pakistan’s economy, which has been in decline for almost a year, and provide comfort to other creditors. However, the government has faced pressure from the IMF to tighten government spending, raise electricity and gas prices, and impose additional taxes in order to avoid the political fallout of such decisions. These measures may be necessary in order to address the country’s economic challenges, but they could also have negative consequences for the population.