Foreign exchange: SBP reserves fall $85m to $10.89b

Decrease comes due to external debt payments by govt

​ Our Correspondent April 23, 2020
Decrease comes due to external debt payments by govt. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank decreased 0.78% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday.

On April 17, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $10,889.2 million, down $85 million compared with $10,974.6 million in the previous week.

The central bank attributed the decrease to government external debt payments of $145 million.

“On April 20, the SBP received $1.39 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to address the economic impact of the Covid-19 shock,” the statement said. “These funds will be part of SBP’s weekly reserves data for April 24, to be released on April 30.”

Overall, liquid foreign currency reserves held by the country, including net reserves held by banks other than the SBP, stood at $17,300.3 million. Net reserves held by banks amounted to $6,411.1 million.

Pakistan received the first loan tranche of $991.4 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on July 9 last year, which helped bolster the reserves. In late December, the IMF released the second loan tranche of around $454 million.

Previously, the reserves jumped on account of $2.5 billion in inflows from China.

A couple of months ago, the SBP successfully made a foreign debt repayment of over $1 billion on the maturity of Sukuk.

In December 2019, the foreign exchange reserves surpassed the $10-billion mark owing to inflows from multilateral lenders including $1.3 billion from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Foreign investment of over $3 billion in the debt market in the current fiscal year also played an important role in the growing foreign currency reserves.

Earlier, the reserves had spiralled downwards, falling below the $7-billion mark, which raised concern over Pakistan’s ability to meet its financing requirements. However, financial assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and other friendly nations helped shore up the foreign exchange reserves.