Govt retires $16.4 billion external debt in last two years: Senate informed

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar on Friday informed the Senate the government has paid US $16.4 billion towards external debt and Rs19.9 trillion towards domestic debt during the last two years.

Responding to various supplementary questions during Question Hour, the minister said record debt servicing was done during the last two years. The government was retiring US $10 billion debt annually, he added.

To another question, he said that the country’s foreign exchange reserves have increased to US $20 billion despite record debt servicing.

He said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has foreign exchange reserves of $ 12-13 billion. The reserves have increased due to improvement in exports and remittances, he added.

The minister said the current account has shown a surplus of $1.6 billion during the first five months of current financial year against a deficit of US $ 1.7 billion in the corresponding period of last year.

To a separate question, he said no cut on the NFC share of provinces has been imposed by the federal government. It was not a fact, that the government has imposed cut of Rs154 billion on the share of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the NFC Award.

Nine SEZs to be built under CPEC: Senate told: Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar on Friday informed the Senate that nine special economic zones (SEZs) would be constructed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project with an estimated cost of $ 1.5 billion. Responding to various questions during Question Hour, the minister said out of total, construction work on three SEZs has been expedited on fast track.

To another question, the minister said as many as 11 projects worth $ 1.7 billion were specified for Gwadar under the CPEC. 

Two projects have already been completed while seven projects worth $ 1.2 billion were in the execution phase, he added.

To a separate question, Hammad Azhar told that CPEC Authority ordinance has been lapsed and currently the Ministry of Planning was looking after the affairs of the CPEC projects. Meanwhile, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told that bringing reforms in Federal Board of Revenue was part of PTI election manifesto. He said record revenue was collected during the PTI tenure, he said.

Govt steps help increase country’s exports: Senate told: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Trade Abdul Razak Dawood Friday apprised the Senate that country’s exports witnessed increase owing to the concrete steps taken by the government.

Replying to various questions during Question Hour, the adviser said that 60 per cent increase was recorded in the textile exports while 40 per cent growth was also recorded in IT sector related exports.

The government was paying special attention towards promotion of engineering, pharmaceutical and chemical exports, he said. He said government strengthened its economic ties with African countries under its Look Africa Policy to enhance the outreach of Pakistani goods in international market.

Trade committees have been formed to conduct bilateral trade negotiations with various countries, he added. He said that the government provided a stimulus package worth Rs180 billion to industries during COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding import of coal, Razak Dawood said that coal was being imported for running the power plants.