Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif may name Miftah Ismail as finance minister ahead of crucial talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), US media group Bloomberg has reported.

Citing sources close to the newly elected government, Bloomberg said PM Shehbaz may name Ismail and rest of his cabinet within 24 hours.

Nomination of Ismail is a part of “hectic efforts” of the new government to stabilise the economy, the sources told the publication.

Miftah Ismail has been finance minister from April 2018 to May 2018 and as adviser on finance from 27 December 2017 – 27 April 2018 during the last PML-N regime.

Quoting sources, Bloomberg said that the coalition government is still in discussions to distribute portfolios and a final decision is yet to be made.

Ismail is said to be among the officials responsible for negotiating with the IMF to resume the $6 billion programme that went into jeopardy after former prime minister Imran Khan unexpectedly decreased energy prices contrary to agreement with the fund.

The new government’s economic team will also have to deal with Asia’s second-fastest inflation and depleting foreign exchange reserves that have dropped to levels that can fund just a couple of months of imports.

The State Bank of Pakistan also increased interest rates — “by the most since 1996” — to 12.25 percent in order to help ease the crisis.

Earlier during an interview with Bloomberg, Ismail had said that Pakistan plans to work with the IMF to stabilise the economy.

The government will prioritise reducing its fiscal deficit and stopping a decline in foreign exchange reserves that will support the rupee.

The publication mentioned that Ismail declined to comment on his potential appointment while ruling party spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb and the Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.


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