External debt stands at $36.5 billion

ISLAMABAD (November 13 2002) : Pakistan's total external debt was a little changed in the first three months of financial year 2002-03 and stood at $36.5 billion, which was only $32 million less than at the end of financial year ended June 2002.

The foreign debt was $36.532 billion at the end of financial year 2002, $37.139 billion by the end of financial year 2001 and $37.918 in year ending June 30, 2000.

While the country continued to pay to bilateral and multilateral donors it also received payments from them on account of new loans, therefore, registering a little change in the overall external liabilities.

The calculation of the debt is on the basis of the net debt, which is minus the forex reserves from the total debt. The net debt is now nearly $ 30 billion, which means that the government holding of the forex is $ 6 billion and the gross liabilities are $ 36 billion.

The growth of the reserves have also now helped a lot where the growing reserves would further decrease the net external debt. This is the first time when Pakistan is seeing that its external debt is falling due to its better external position honouring its all foreign debt, and bought more dollars from open and inter-bank.

The annual payment of Pakistani loans was near $ 4 billion, which the State Bank has been meeting from its own reserves then taking more costly loans, which the previous government has been taking looming extra debts.

A current debate is that now how the reserves should be kept, without any return. To face it the SBP is planning to invest those reserves in some safe funds. Some argue that Pakistan should not invest that money and should keep it for rainy days.

The publicly guaranteed external debt stood at $ 29.651 billion, of which medium and short-term debt with over one year payment was at $29.461 billion. The money owed to Paris Club stood at $12.644 billion, multilateral debt was $14.706 billion, other bilateral was $417 million, Euro Bonds and Saindak Bonds $638 million, military debt $782 million, commercial loans and credit $274 million.

The short term, below one year, payment debt stood at $191 million, the private non-guaranteed debt stood at $2.186 billion. The money owed to IMF was $1.9 billion. Therefore, the total external debt without the foreign exchange liabilities was $33.790 billion.

The foreign exchange liabilities were $2.7 billion which included foreign currency accounts $374 million, special US $ Bonds $809 million, foreign currency bonds $175 million, National debt retirement program $52 million, central bank deposits $750 million, NBP/BOC deposits $500 million and other liabilities $50 million.

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