No intention of freezing foreign currency accounts: Pak state minister for Finance and Revenue


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has no intention of freezing foreign currency accounts, the cash-strapped country’s state minister for Finance and Revenue said on Monday amidst a severe dollar crunch.
Talking to journalists outside Parliament on Monday, State Minister Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said, “We do not plan on freezing foreign currency accounts, and there have been no proposals to take such an action.”
In May 1998, the then-government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif froze all currency accounts after the country’s first nuclear tests.
Pasha said the government had shared the fiscal year 2023-24 budget details with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Washington-based global lender is negotiating with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
The Pakistan government on Friday unveiled a Rs 14.4 trillion budget for 2023-24 as it battled to fend off a looming default due to shrinking foreign reserves.
Pakistan’s efforts to unlock access to the already agreed USD 6.5 billion loan package with the IMF are in a quagmire as the budget needs to satisfy the global lender to secure the release of more bailout money for the cash-strapped country. According to experts, the budget will do little to allay the concerns of the Washington-based global lender.
“We have told the IMF to conclude the ninth review at the earliest. We have less time and a lot of tension for completing the ninth review,” the state minister said, adding that the Fund will not have any issues with the budget.
Pasha said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had assured the Pakistani authorities that her organisation would complete the latest review.
“All our friendly countries have also given their assurances to the IMF,” the state minister was quoted as saying in the report.
Pakistan’s foreign reserves, standing at rock bottom at USD 3.9 billion, cover less than a month’s imports as the economy creaks under twin deficits and record-high inflation, the report said.
Pakistan’s economy has been in a free fall mode for the last many years, bringing untold pressure on the poor masses in the form of unchecked inflation, making it almost impossible for a vast number of people to make ends meet.
Their woes increased manifold after last year’s catastrophic floods that killed more than 1,700 people and caused massive economic losses.