The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it would consider Pakistan's request for financial assistance to cope with the challenges being posed by the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The COVID-19 cases in Pakistan on Saturday rose to over 1,320, including 11 deaths.
Cash-strapped Pakistan had requested for financial assistance under the IMF's Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) facility to shore up the country's foreign exchange reserves and budgetary support in the wake of the adverse impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on its economy.
'Our team is working expeditiously to respond to this request so that a proposal can be considered by the IMF's executive board as soon as possible,' IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement released to the media by the Fund's Islamabad-based office on Friday.
On March 4, the IMF had announced that it would support vulnerable countries with different lending facilities, including through rapid-disbursing emergency financing, which could amount up to USD 50 billion for low-income and emerging markets. Of this, USD 10 billion is available at zero interest for the poorest members through the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), the Dawn News reported.
On March 25, Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, announced that Pakistan has arranged about USD 4 billion additional financial assistance from multilateral lending and aid agencies, including USD 1.4 billion additional funds from the IMF.
Soon after the announcement, the IMF chief confirmed Pakistan's request for financial assistance under the RFI to ensure prompt and adequate relief to the people and the economy.
The emergency financing, Georgieva said, would allow Pakistan to address additional and urgent balance of payments needs and support policies that would make it possible to direct funds swiftly to the country's most affected sectors, including social protection, daily-wage earners and the healthcare system.