ISLAMABAD: A unilateral statement released by the International Monetary Fund after end of the fourth review of the $6.8 billion bailout package in Dubai on Monday indicated that IMF wants Islamabad to take steps over the next three weeks for enactment of a law through parliament for ensuring complete autonomy of the State Bank, rationalise energy prices and resolve the political crisis.

These measures will enable the IMF delegates to submit a positive report to their executive board.

Before the talks in Dubai, the IMF had indicated that the board would meet between Sept 10 and 15 to take up Pakistan’s case for disbursement of a $550m tranche, a part of the $6.8bn package.

The statement was released after the country’s delegation and an IMF team were unable to reach agreement, despite last-ditch efforts by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, during negotiations lasting 12 days (Aug 6 to 18).

Consequently, the two sides did not hold a joint news conference, as planned earlier.

Mr Dar, who led the Pakistan delegation, had flown to Dubai on Sunday.

The statement issued by the IMF mission, led by Jeffrey R. Franks, said: “The mission made excellent progress toward agreement on key policy issues going forward. Discussions will be continuing in the coming days via videoconference from Washington with the aim of securing a timely completion of the fourth review.”

The statement said the meetings and discussions held with Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and State bank governor Ashraf Wathra had been useful.

“The government of Pakistan’s reform programme was broadly on track through end-June,” it said.

The IMF statement was in contrast to a statement made by the finance ministry’s spokesman on Sunday in which he had reported smooth completion of the fourth review with two waivers on non-compliance of limits on net domestic assets of the State Bank and borrowing from the central bank by the government during the fiscal year that ended on June 30. He had stated that the two sides would hold a joint news conference on Monday.

The government side, however, issued a separate statement on the return of Finance Minister Dar.

“The policy level dialogue will continue in Dubai and is expected to be finalised by coming Friday,” a statement issued by the ministry of finance said.

It said the minister had to rush back to Islamabad due to the meeting of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, scheduled for Tuesday at Islamabad. Mr Dar is chairman of the committee.

The finance ministry said that the policy level dialogue would take three or four days to conclude, but did not explain the reason behind this extension. The talks were earlier scheduled for Aug 6 through 18.

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