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Chinese banks agree to refinance Pakistan with $2.3 billion funding

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  • Miftah Ismail announces “good news” on his Twitter handle.
  • Finance minister says inflow will help shore up foreign exchange reserves.
  • “Inflow is expected shortly after some routine approvals from both sides,” he adds.

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said Thursday that Chinese banks have agreed to refinance Pakistan with $2.3 billion worth of funds which will “shore up Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves.”

Taking to his Twitter handle, Miftah wrote: “Good news. The terms and conditions for refinancing of RMB 15 billion deposit by Chinese banks (about $2.3 billion) have been agreed.”

The finance minister further added that inflow is expected “shortly” after some routine approvals from both sides, adding that this will help shore up the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

The news comes as a lifeline as the country is already facing an uncertain economic situation due to a delay in the revival of stalled multibillion-dollar International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

The development comes as a massive relief to economic policymakers that saw foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) fall to $10.09 billion, with the level staying at less than 1.5 months of import cover.

The agreement with Chinese banks is expected to bolster the reserves and enable the country to make import payments while lending some support to the rupee as well which has lost over 25% since the start of the outgoing fiscal year 2021-22.

IMF programme

The restoration of Pakistan’s delayed IMF programme rests on the government’s capacity to make fiscal adjustments of about 2.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP), or Rs2,000 billion, by increasing revenues and reducing expenditures in the upcoming budget 2022-23.

The IMF’s wish-list or demands do not end here, as the government must end petrol subsidies of Rs39 per litre and diesel subsidies of Rs53 per litre, raise electricity tariffs by Rs8 per unit via an increase in base tariff and fuel price adjustments, and increase gas tariffs by 20% on average to demonstrate its commitment to implementing the much-needed ‘reforms agenda’ under the advice of the IMF programme.

However, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told The News that the staff-level agreement with the Fund was expected to be struck by mid-June 2022. 

It indicates that the staff-level agreement is expected only after the announcement of the next budget for 2022–23, in line with the IMF programme’s objectives.

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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Pakistan currently has $14.38 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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Pakistan’s commercial banks’ reserves, which stood at $5.28 billion at the conclusion of the week ending on June 7, rose by US$174 million, according to a central bank statement.

Reserving US$6.2 million less, the SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves. The causes for the decline in the reserves it had were not disclosed by the central bank.

The SBP released a statement that stated, “SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on 07-June-2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves were reduced by US$ 63 million as a result of repaying external debt, with the reserves standing at US$ 9.093 billion as of earlier on June 6.

The central bank spokesperson said in a statement that as of the week that concluded on May 31, the nation’s total liquid foreign reserves were $14.31 billion.

In terms of net foreign reserves, commercial banks have US$ 5.22 billion of the overall foreign reserves, according to the SBP.

SBP reserves dropped by US$ 63 million to US$ 9,093.7 million during the week that ended on May 24, 2024, according to the announcement.

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In the local market, the price of gold plummets to Rs240,700/tola.

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Gold with a 24-karat purity level has dropped by Rs1200/tola on the local market.

Each tola of 24-karat gold is now selling for Rs240,700, with a further drop of Rs1029 bringing the price of 10 kilos of gold to Rs206,361. These figures are courtesy of the All Sarafa and Jewelers Association.

Meanwhile, after a $2 decline on the global market, one ounce of gold will be valued $2315.

A tola of gold was worth Rs 600 more on Wednesday.

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