Reserves and emerging external situation.
Byline: Huma Arif - Karachi
This refers to the news report 'SBP reserves fall by $227m' (Feb 16). The country's reserves continue to slide and as per the latest State Bank figures, free reserves stand at $ 12.834 billion, hardly sufficient to meet two and a half months of imports.
On the other hand, FDI is also declining as another news report says 'Foreign investment dips 3 pc' (Feb 16).
It appears that the doses of measures recently taken to improve exports, reduce imports and shore up reserves have failed to produce result.
The country is close to knocking the doors of IMF. After the recent twist in relations with the US and its tirade against Pakistan with the warning to put it on terror watchlist, it may be difficult to obtain loans and funding from international institutions. In that eventuality, procuring finances from the global commercial market may even become closed.
The situation is fraught with serious consequences. It is all the more important that the illegal money stashed abroad by Pakistanis be brought back on fast track basis. Though the apex court is seized of the matter, the required steps needed to be taken on war footing while the ministry of finance, FBR, State Bank are dragging their feet.
A string of new legislation is urgently required to ensure that, henceforth, no more money goes abroad. The infamous Economic Reforms order Act 1992 needs to be repealed while the role of Exchange Companies and Money Changers in illegal money transfer should be looked into. Foreign currency accounts maintained in Pakistan by Pakistani citizens is a source of legalized money transfer and this window be abolished.