Govt took Rs3tr domestic loans in two months, NA told

Asim Yasin
Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024

ISLAMABAD: The Finance Ministry informed the National Assembly on Monday that the total amount of domestic loans during the tenure of the present government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from March 1, 2024 to April 30, 2024 were Rs3,004 billion whereas the total amount of external loans raised during the same period were $433 million excluding that from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The details were given in a reply to a question of Naveed Aamir, who asked about the details of total loan taken by the present government till now along with the country-wise volume of loan apart from IMF.

Giving the details in a written reply during the question hour in the National Assembly, Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb in a written reply, while giving the country-wise breakup of bilateral external debt as of March 2024, stated that total bilateral external debt stock including Paris Club countries and Non-Paris Club countries was at $26.121 billion.

According to breakup of bilateral countries, total debt stock of Paris Club Countries stands at $7.219 billion that includes of $11 from Austria, $6 million from Belgium, $23 million from Canada, $42 million from Finland, $1,205 million from France, $1,043 million from Germany, $157 million from Italy, $ 3,356 million Japan, 4,319 million from Republic of Korea, $67 million from the Netherlands, $5 million from Norway, $65 million from Russia, $46 million from Spain, $27 million from Sweden, $47 from Switzerland, $2 million from United Kingdom and $840 million from the United States.

While the break-up of bilateral external debt s end of March 2924 from Non-Paris Club stood at $18.902 billion that includes major chunk of debt stock from China which is at $12.40 billion while other major chunk from Saudi Arabia at Rs6.371 billion and $111 million from Kuwait, $1 million from Libya and $18 million from United Arab Emirates.

To another written reply to a question of Tahira Aurangzeb, the Finance Ministry said that total amount of external loans disbursement recorded during 18-August-2018 to 10 April 2022 were $46.8 billion of which $19.9 billion was obtained from multilateral sources, $7.4 billion bilateral sources, $15.1 billion from foreign commercial banks and $4.3 billion from Eurobonds.

It was told that the disbursement from commercial banks mainly represents the refinancing assumptions i.e. $15 billion was raised against the repayments of $14.8 billion.

According to details, out of $46 billion, $19.884 billion was obtained through multilateral creditor that include $6.019 billion from ADB, $5.041 billion from World Bank, $4.387 billion from the IMF, $3.175 billion from the IDB (ST), $820 million from the AIIB, $233 million from the IDP and $209 million from others.

From $7.35 billion bilateral loans, $3.891 billion were obtained from Saudi Arabia, $3.069 from China, $182 million from France and $210 million from others.

From $15.057 billion commercial banks’ loans $4.934 billion were taken from China Development Bank, $3.074 billion from Dubai Islamic Bank, $1.6 billion ICBC from China, $1.534 billion Standard Chartered Bank, $1.194 billion from Credit Suisse/ AG/ UBL/ ABL and $2.720 billion from others.

Meanwhile, replying to a question with regard to privatisation of the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airline (PIA), Minister for Privatisation Aleem Khan told the National Assembly that currently the PIA was facing a losses of Rs830 billion and all the parties sitting here have a share in destruction of the PIA.

He said that about 21 planes of PIA are currently flying out of 34 planes, while 13 aircraft have been grounded at this time.

He said the consortium which would buy shares in the PIA would not lay off the employees.

Responding to another question with regard to privatisation of the state owned enterprises (SOEs), Aleem told the National Assembly that the government intends to privatise around 24 SOEs in coming years.

He said these companies include Pakistan International Airlines, Roosevelt Hotel, First Women Bank, Utility Stores Corporation and various power distribution companies that includes Genco-I, Genco-II, Genco-III, Genco-IV, Iesco, Gepco, Pesco, Mepco, Lesco, Fesco, Sepco and Hesco.

In response to Dr Nafisa Shah’s question, the minister said that the privatisation of PIA will be done at the rate of 49 and 51 percent. “It is being done under public-private partnership and the government will retain 49 percent shares,” he said.

He said no foreign company can buy 51 percent shares, adding that 51 percent shares are being sold to bring the PIA under management control.

In response to Khawaja Izharul Hasan’s question, Aleem said that properties of the PIA, including Roosevelt, would not be sold along with the PIA.

In a response to question of Shazia Marri with regard to the FBR track and trace system for revenue collection and the system did not give the expected results from 2021 to 2024, Minister of State Ali Pervaiz Malik admitted that the track and trace could not achieve its required results.

He told the National Assembly that the inquiry committee was constituted on 05-04-2023 by the prime minister and the inquiry report was communicated by the PM Office on 01-08-2023 which concluded as, “The track and trace system in place is far from perfect. If derailed it will take years to put it back on track. The need is to make improvement within the existing system.”

He stated that second inquiry committee was constituted by the prime minister on 05-03-2024, which finalised its recommendation on 23-04-2024 and observed: “Prime facie, the committee did not find and evidence of malfeasance or malafide in the award of the contract.”

However, he said for fixation of responsibility, a committee has been constituted by prime minister and findings of the committee had been finalised and submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office.

In a response to a question, the commerce minister said that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) imported 6,572,430 metric tons of wheat during the period from 2020-21 to 2022-23.

In response to Sahar Kamran’s question, the minister said that the TCP imported wheat based on the instructions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and the federal cabinet.

Jamal Kamal clarified that the TCP did not import any quantity of wheat during 2023-24.

He explained that TCP acts as the sole medium for purchasing wheat for food security purposes, while its storage and distribution are managed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

The minister dispelled any rumours regarding the export of wheat flour, stating that such reports were baseless and no such decision had been made.

He said that it was decided last year that the private sector would be responsible for importing wheat, and the TCP would not engage in wheat imports. However, he said that the TCP can only import wheat under a mandate given by the government.

Regarding sugar, the minister clarified that decisions related to the import and export of sugar are made by the Sugar Advisory Board, and no decision has been made yet regarding sugar imports.

To a question of Jam Abdul Kareem Bajar regarding the payment of compensation to the victims of 2022 floods, Federal Minister for Energy Awais Leghari said that the NDMA had fulfilled its responsibility.

He said the funds will be allocated in the upcoming budget to deal with disasters.

In a reply to question of Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, Minister of State for Economic Affairs Ali Pervaiz informed the National Assembly that the government was implementing measures to control iron smuggling at Taftan border area.

He said that all-out resources would be utilised to protect the production of the country’s local industries including the iron industry.

The minister said that monitoring on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border has been tightened to prevent iron smuggling.

Ali Pervaiz said that the only way to escape the IMF clutches is through reforms, quoting the examples from countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

To another question, he said that appeals involving amounts over Rs20 million would be decided by appellate tribunals instead of the Commissioner of Income Tax, adding that artificial intelligence and other methods are being used in the selection of audits.

Ali Pervaiz said that minimum wage should be reviewed considering the current inflationary period, adding that he would convey members’ views on revising the minimum wage in the upcoming budget.