Few buyers for Eid camels as record inflation hits Pakistan

Teenager Amanullah Khan teeters on his tiptoes, daubing towering camels with festive henna patterns to entice Eid al-Adha customers at a market near the Pakistan capital.

Hundreds of farmers have camped at livestock markets across Pakistan for weeks, hoping to sell animals before the revised budget sought by the IMF and an off-cycle hike in interest rates, hoping to secure the pending funds under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme signed in 2019.

With time running out, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Tuesday said the two sides were working on a “mechanism” to ensure that Pakistan got the entire $2.5bn and not just the close to $1.1bn due under the current review.

Dar did not elaborate on what the mechanism was.

Pakistan Eid camels
Customers look at sacrificial camels decorated with ‘henna’ designs at a livestock market on the outskirts of Islamabad [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

The ninth review is in order after recent adjustments but Pakistan is keen to receive the entire amount that has not been disbursed, which is only possible in a new programme, the Express Tribune daily said, quoting sources.

It said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif discussed signing a new standby arrangement (SBA) worth $2.6bn for a short term of six months with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper also said an SBA was one option discussed to access pending funds after the expiry of the EFF.

The South Asian nation is in dire need of external financing and has allocated $2.5bn in IMF support in its annual budget, which will also be key to unlocking other avenues of funding.

On Tuesday, Sharif said he expected an agreement in a day or two, with the lender saying it was holding talks with the aim of “quickly reaching an agreement on financial support from the IMF”.

Meanwhile, Bakht Zaman, a farmer from Mardan district in Pakistan’s northwest, says he brought 10 camels to market and has so far sold only one for 500,000 rupees.

“The value of the Pakistani rupee has fallen,” says buyer Haq Nawaz. “Who will buy such expensive animals?”

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