Pakistan’s target of 3.5% GDP in 2023-24 fiscal year “realistic” – finance minister

A salesman looks at a television screen showing the Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar presenting the budget for the 2023/24 fiscal year in the parliament in Islamabad, at a shop in Karachi, Pakistan. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s finance minister said on Saturday a projection in the government’s budget of 3.5% economic growth for the year ending in June 2024 was a “realistic target”.

The target was “on the lower side”, Ishaq Dar told a press conference in Islamabad, a day after presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2023-24.

The budget is being closely watched by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the South Asian country seeks further bailout money during an economic and balance of payments crisis.

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In the year ending this month, Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to grow by just 0.29%. The fiscal deficit for the following fiscal year was projected at 6.54% of GDP, according to the budget.

The country faces a series of economic crises, exacerbated by a stall in bailout funding from the IMF, which analysts said was unlikely to be significantly impressed by the budget.

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In addition to requirements related to the currency and budget, Pakistan is required to secure firm and credible financing commitments to close the $6 billion gap to unlock funding under its long-delayed ninth IMF review. The government has gotten commitments of only $4 billion, mainly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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