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China, Saudi Arabia to provide $13bn financial package: Dar

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  • China, KSA will provide additional amount of $8.8bn and $4.2bn, respectively.
  • During PM’s recent visits, China, KSA assured to take care of Islamabad’s financial requirements till June 2023, says Dar.
  • China assured Pakistan that they would roll over $4 billion sovereign rollover deposits on all coming due dates, says Dar. 

ISLAMABAD: China and Saudi Arabia have assured Pakistan of providing a financial package of $13 billion, with the former pledging $8.8 billion and latter $4.2 billion for the current fiscal year 2022-23.

This is in addition to the rollover of sovereign loan deposits, additional rollovers, commercial loans, additional SWAPS and jacking up oil facilities on deferred payment in line with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement.

Both financial packages will ease the struggling economy of Pakistan as the foreign currency reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan stand at $8.9 billion at the moment.

“China and Saudi Arabia have given assurances to Pakistani delegations under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during recent visits that they will take care of Islamabad’s financial requirements till June 2023. Now the real effective exchange rate (REER) in terms of rupee against the US dollar has come down to Rs190 against the US dollar and no one will be allowed to play with our exchange rate,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told a select group of reporters in his office on Friday, The News reported.

The minister said that China assured Pakistan that they would roll over $4 billion sovereign rollover deposits on all coming due dates. The Chinese authorities, he said, also assured that the commercial loans of $3.3 billion will also be provided in due course of time. He said that China also granted a green signal for jacking up the SWAPS amount by providing an additional $1.45 billion so the total Chinese package would go up to $8.8 billion for the ongoing financial year. The Bank of China, he said, had already provided $200 million recently.

Dar said Pakistan and China agreed to resume the halted work on Mainline-1 from Karachi to Peshawar, which would be constructed at an estimated cost of $9.8 billion. He said that China also agreed to finance Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). He was of the view that the cost of ML-1 had gone up from $6.3 billion to $9.8 billion because of unwarranted delay in its execution during the tenure of PTI led regime. The minister said that China’s president and prime minister especially inquired about the health of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif during this visit.

Sharing details about the outcome of Saudi Arabia’s visit, the minister said that they also assured to consider Pakistan’s request for additional $3 billion in deposits and jacking up the oil facility on deferred payment by an additional $1.2 billion. Besides, an additional amount of $4.2 billion would be considered by KSA authorities.

He said that KSA would also roll over existing deposits of $3 billion and their oil facility of $1.2 billion on deferred payment ($100 million on monthly basis) would continue till June 2023. Therefore, the total Saudi package is expected to touch $8.4 billion. To another query, the minister said that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is going to visit Pakistan within the ongoing month.

He said that Saudi Arabia would also construct a Petrochemical Complex in Gwadar at an estimated investment of $11 to $12 billion. It was agreed with the KSA in 2015 that it would construct an oil refinery at an estimated cost of $6 billion and he had offered to construct that in Hub because at that time Gwadar was not ready for providing the required infrastructure.

He said the government was also considering offering potential investment opportunities to KSA, including selling RLNG-based power plants. Dar said that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was expected to approve $500 million as co-financing of ADB’s BRACE programme of $1.5 billion within the ongoing month.

He said the government would also convene a National Tax Council meeting next week for approving the GST harmonisation on goods and services among the Centre and the provinces, which is the only stumbling block in the way of approving $450 million RISE programme of the World Bank. There is another $500 million loan for Sindh, so the total disbursement of approximately $1.4 billion from WB was awaiting on harmonisation of GST for goods and services.

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“Ready to work with Pakistan’s new government,” the IMF said.

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In response to the former premier’s request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, “I’m not going to comment on ongoing political developments,” during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they “look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan’s citizens with the new government.”

In addition to stating that the plan is “supporting the authority’s efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable,” Kozack said the lender increased the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and rein in inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, the speaker stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan programme. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

In response to the former premier’s request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, “I’m not going to comment on ongoing political developments,” during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they “look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan’s citizens with the new government.”

In addition to stating that the plan is “supporting the authority’s efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable,” Kozack said the lender increased the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and rein in inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, the speaker stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan programme. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

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In a new IMF agreement, Pakistan would “raise” the FBR tax-to-GDP ratio to 15%.

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The state bank reserves will be maintained at a level equivalent to three months’ worth of import bills, according to sources in the Finance Ministry.

According to sources, the ministry has also set a goal to maintain the primary balance surplus and reduce the current account deficit.

The ministry insisted that once the existing agreement expires, a new one would be negotiated with the IMF, and that the IMF will also be guaranteed that the requirements will be implemented prior to the agreement being finalised.

The founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded that an audit of the election results be conducted before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved any additional loans for Islamabad. However, the IMF showed earlier today that it was eager to cooperate with the new administration in Pakistan by disregarding the demand.

According to Bloomberg News yesterday, Pakistan is to apply for a fresh $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to assist the next government in paying off billions of dollars in debt that comes due this year.

According to the article, the nation would attempt to negotiate an Extended Fund Facility with the IMF, and it was anticipated that discussions with the international lender would begin in March or April.

Thanks to a short-term IMF bailout, Pakistan avoided defaulting last summer. However, the plan expires next month, and the next administration will need to negotiate a long-term deal to keep the $350 billion economy steady.

The IMF forced the South Asian country to enact a number of reforms prior to the rescue, including raising its benchmark interest rate, changing its budget, and raising the cost of natural gas and electricity.

According to a fund spokeswoman, the IMF staff is still in communication with authorities on the necessary longer-term reform initiatives. The fund is also prepared to assist the post-election government in addressing Pakistan’s ongoing issues by means of a new arrangement, should that request be made.

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39% increase in IT exports in January: Dr. Umar Saif

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According to Dr. Umar Saif, the acting minister for information technology and telecommunication, IT exports increased by 39.4% to $265 million in January of this year from $190 million in the same month the previous fiscal year.

The IT sector in Pakistan is expanding and breaking records. The minister wrote on X that “IT exports in January are up by 39.4% to $265 million, compared to $190 million in the same month in 2023.”

The minister also revealed that IT exports to the United States over the first seven months of the current fiscal year (July–January) were $1.7 billion, up 13 percent from $1.5 billion in the same time previous year.

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