Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves currently stand at $10 billion and not $4 billion as $6 billion held by commercial banks also belong to the country.
The minister made the remarks while talking to a private news channel and maintained that Pakistan's due debts are being returned on time and the country’s forex reserves will “stabilise again very soon”.
The statement by the financial czar comes a day after this paper had reported that the country’s forex reserves held by the central bank fell to $4.5 billion - hardly enough to finance 25 days of imports - after Pakistan returned over $1 billion in loans to two foreign commercial banks.
According to reports, two separate repayments of $600 million and $415 million have been made to two Dubai-based commercial banks.
Dar further told the news channel that an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation will visit Pakistan soon.
He also said that he will meet the IMF officials at the Geneva moot beginning tomorrow and will stop in the UAE on a three-day official visit on his way back to Pakistan.
The moot will be held on January 9 and Dar is expected to leave for Geneva along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and meet IMF officials on the sidelines of the conference.
The finance minister furthered that he is hopeful that funds from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia, will be transferred to Pakistan soon.
It is pertinent to mention here that the economic activities in the country have already been severely affected due to depleting reserves, devaluation of local currency and non-opening of letter of credits (LCs) for private companies.
It is expected that Pakistan and the IMF will hold a discussion next week for the completion of the pending ninth review of the programme.
If the pending review is completed successfully, Pakistan will get a loan installment of over $1 billion from the IMF.
A plan laying out a timeline and the financing of the rebuilding effort has been a sticking point in talks to clear the ninth review that will release $1.1 billion in IMF funds and unlock other international funding too.
Dar has been critical of the IMF lately, publicly saying that the lender was acting "abnormally" in its dealings with Pakistan, which entered the $7 billion bailout programme in 2019.
However, PM Shehbaz has requested the IMF managing director to immediately send over a team to the country to start review negotiations for the next tranche of its loan.
The premier’s direct intervention in the IMF programme talks suggests that the matters have slipped out of the hands of the finance ministry.