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Pakistan’s forex reaches $3.5b: Minister

ISLAMABAD, Oct 20 (NNI): Pakistan on Saturday crossed a foreign exchange reserve of 3.5 billion dollars, which is a record of its history, Finance Minister, Shaukat Aziz said.
Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad that the figure did not include six hundred million dollars, which Pakistan paid as its liabilities this month. He said the reserve is the result of the consolidation of our rupee and increase in net export proceeds.
The Finance Minister said Pakistan is in the process of receiving fiscal support amounting to about 800 million dollars from Paris Club friends so far. Among them include 673 million dollars from the United States, 45 million dollars from the European Union, 40 million from Britain and 25 million dollars from Japan.
All this amount, he said, is over and above the commitments made for the succor of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Commitments on that account, the Finance Minister pointed out, have exceeded 600 million dollars for which an appeal was made by the UN Secretary-General. "This sum will be spent through UNHCR. It will be spent mostly locally in Pakistan to buy their needs".
The Finance Minister stated that debt relief by Paris Club for Pakistan would be finalized by December or January at the most. The relief sought will be diverted to social sector, human development and poverty reduction. Canada has converted its 285 million dollar loan as grant for the development of social sector. Britain has written off 24 million dollars credit of Commonwealth Development Corporation.
Listing the Government's efforts to provide relief to business and industry, he said these include deferment of withholding tax on some export items and utilisation of guarantee of 150 million dollars by the Asian Development Bank to the private sector.
Mr. Shaukat Aziz noted that PIA had been able to increase its freight income by thirty percent after September 11.—NNI

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