Govt to return $10bn foreign debt during current fiscal year: Hammad Azhar  

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar informed the National Assembly on Thursday that the government would return over $10 billion foreign debt during the current fiscal year.

Replying to various supplementary questions during question hour, Hammad Azhar said the incumbent government returned US $ 8.39 billion foreign debt from August 18, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

He said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government obtained US $ 7.1 billion foreign loan during the said period. The past government had obtained loans on short terms during last two years of its tenure which had to return, he added.

The Minister for Economic Affairs said the foreign debt on August 18, 2018 was US $ 73.1 billion.

To another question, he said debt to GDP ratio had exceeded from the limit during the tenure of past government. However, he said that the incumbent government was making efforts to bring it down to the prescribed limit.

Hammad Azhar said external debt witnessed only $ 2.3 billion during the tenure of present government. The government cleared record Rs145 billion refund cases, he added.

The Minister said the stock of outstanding external debt of Pakistan till May 2019 stood at Rs10,838 billion. In order to resolve economic issues, the government was introducing comprehensive set of economic and structural reforms particularly focusing on export, re-establishing fiscal stability and improving governance in key utilities and state owned enterprises.

Regarding devaluation of rupee, Hammad Azhar said that the recent movement in the exchange rate reflected resolution of the macroeconomic imbalances accumulated over the past few years when the rupee was kept overvalued, the increased demand for imported goods led to widening of the current account deficit to unmanageable levels putting severe pressure on the country's foreign exchange reserves.

He said that as a result of the demand-supply gap in the foreign exchange market, rupee depreciated by 13.7 per cent in FY 18 and 24.1 per cent in FY 19.

Hammad Azhar said Pakistan's current exchange rate regime was flexible and market determined. The State Bank however was committed to addressing disorderly market behaviour, he said.

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