With rapid depreciation of the exchange rate and escalating living costs in world capitals, the government spent a whopping Rs9.8 billion on its foreign missions last year, registering an increase of 13% over the preceding year.
Official documents revealed that over the past six fiscal years, Pakistan’s 121 missions abroad registered a 72% increase in expenses, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs incurring cumulative expenditures worth Rs48.8 billion.
This substantial unexpected rise in expenditures worth billions of rupees, over the past six years, is being attributed to the decreasing value of the rupee against the dollar by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Talking to The Express Tribune, Foreign Office spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan linked the sudden increase in expenditures of foreign missions abroad with skyrocketing inflation across the globe. “This increase (in expenditure) is directly linked to the rupee value as it fell to all-time low against the greenback.”
Khan said that foreign missions abroad continued to keep expenditures to a minimum, justifying the sharp increase by recalling that a few years ago one US dollar was equivalent to approximately 62 Pakistani rupees.
According to details, the ministry of finance released Rs5.72 billion in 2007-08, Rs7.23 billion in 2008-09, Rs8.21 billion in 2009-10, Rs8.4 billion in 2010-11, Rs9.5 billion in 2011-12 and Rs9.8 billion for the current fiscal year to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet expenditures of its missions abroad. Surprisingly, Pakistan’s mission in Washington was reported to be the most expensive, as it spent Rs611 million 2009-10.
Pakistan’s mission in New Delhi was reported to be the most expensive in South Asia. Islamabad’s diplomatic office in New Delhi spent Rs192 million in the fiscal year 2007-08. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s mission in New York spent Rs138.2 million in the same fiscal year, which was Rs54 million less than New Delhi.
In fiscal year 2008-09, the New Delhi High Commission expenses jumped to a startling Rs271 million compared to the Pakistan High Commission in New York, which spent Rs124 million during the same year.
Meanwhile, the High Commission in London spent Rs251 million in 2008-09 and Rs310 million in 2009-10, while the mission in Geneva spent Rs203 million in 2008-09 and Rs258 million in 2009-10. Surprisingly, the most cost effective of Pakistan’s High Commissions abroad was reported to be the Montreal mission, which spent only Rs4.8 million in 2009-10, the lowest amount spent by any mission. Additionally, during that fiscal year, the High Commission in Istanbul spent Rs24 million, while the High Commission in Harare spent Rs25 million in 2009-10.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2013.