After declining for three weeks in a row and losing a cumulative $1,685 million during that period, the foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) have rebounded, according to a statement from the central bank.
As of February 10, SBP’s foreign currency reserves totaled $3,192.9 million, which is up $276 million from the previous week. This increase represents a gain of over 9 per cent and has broken the streak of declining reserves.
However, even with this increase, the amount is still only enough to cover one month of imports. Meanwhile, the net forex reserves held by commercial banks are $5,509.3 million, which is $2,316.4 billion more than SBP, bringing the total liquid foreign reserves of the country to $8,702.2 million. The statement did not provide a specific reason for the increase in SBP-held reserves.
Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits due to a balance-of-payments crisis, political chaos, and deteriorating security. The government has banned all but essential food and medicine imports until it receives a crucial loan tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which could unlock other sources of funding for the country.
Inflation has risen sharply, the rupee has declined, and the country is struggling to afford imports, which has caused a severe decline in its industry. Pakistan is no longer issuing letters of credit, except for essential food and medicine, since January, which has led to a backlog of raw material imports that the country can no longer afford.
According to Geo, the rupee devaluation and the logjam have resulted in a significant decline in manufacturing, including textiles and steel, and building projects.
While the IMF cash injection alone will not be enough to rescue Pakistan, the government hopes that it will boost confidence and pave the way for other friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and the UAE to offer additional loans.