Pakistan’s central bank has received a significant financial boost of $2 billion from Saudi Arabia, as announced by Federal Minister Ishaq Dar. This infusion of funds will greatly bolster the country’s low foreign exchange reserves.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, Dar expressed gratitude, stating, “Our brother nation, Saudi Arabia, has deposited $2 billion into the account of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).” He further emphasised that this contribution will directly enhance Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves.
At the close of last week, the SBP’s forex reserves grew by $393 million to reach $4.463 billion, primarily due to official government inflows. Over the past two weeks, the SBP’s reserves have surged by $937 million. However, it is important to note that these reserves still only cover approximately a month’s worth of imports.
Dar stated, “These $2 billion will be reflected in the SBP’s reserves by the week ending 14th July.” The finance minister also commended the Saudi government, specifically King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for their instrumental role in this gesture of support. Dar extended heartfelt appreciation to the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for depositing $2 billion with the SBP and expressed optimism about future positive economic developments. He declared that Pakistan’s economic situation has nearly stabilised and is poised for growth.
This development follows the recent announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that its staff and Pakistani authorities have reached an agreement on policies backed by a $3 billion, nine-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). The staff-level agreement is pending approval by the IMF Executive Board, with a decision expected on 12th July.
Nathan Porter, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, stated, “The new SBA builds upon the authorities’ efforts under Pakistan’s 2019 EFF-supported program, which expires at the end of June.” The new IMF arrangement, viewed as highly favorable for the government and economy amidst the ongoing crisis, extends Pakistan’s commitment to the lender well into the second half of fiscal year 2023-24. Moreover, it represents an upgrade from earlier expectations of receiving $1.1 billion following the ninth review.
Experts have consistently emphasised the critical nature of resuming the IMF bailout package for Pakistan, a cash-strapped South Asian economy grappling with a balance of payments crisis. In addition to mitigating risks of potential default, the funding from the international lender is expected to pave the way for additional inflows from Pakistan’s multilateral and bilateral partners.