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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s total public debt increased by Rs 12.5 trillion from July 2018 to December 2020, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin informed the Senate in a written reply Friday.

At the Question Hour during the Senate sitting presided over by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Kamran Murtaza from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) sought details about the overall increase in external and internal debt of Pakistan during the last two-and-a-half years with year-wise break up, and the amount of external debt in dollars discharged during the last two-and-a-half years as well as the new debt obtained by the government during the same period.

In response, the data provided by the finance minister in a written reply said, domestic debt was Rs16.4 trillion in June 2018, external debt was Rs 8.5 trillion in the same period while total public debt was Rs 25 trillion in June 2018. In June 2019, domestic debt was Rs 20.7 trillion, external debt Rs 12 trillion while total public debt was recorded at Rs 32.7 trillion. In June 2020, domestic debt was Rs 23.3 trillion, external debt Rs 13.1 trillion and total public debt was recorded at Rs 36.4 trillion. In December 2020, the domestic debt was Rs 24.3 trillion, external debt was Rs 13.1 trillion as total public debt was Rs 37.45 trillion, the data suggested.

The net inflows were $ 3,140 million in financial year 2019-20 consisting of $ 10,496 million inflows and $7,355 million repayments. In financial year 2020-21, net inflows were $ 4,031 million; $ 13,074 million inflows and $ 9,043 million repayments, the data suggested. From July-December 2020, net inflows were recorded at $ 2,472 million; $ 5,703 million inflows and $ 3,231 million repayments, the data showed.

In response to a question posed by Mohsin Aziz from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regarding the value of annual exports of the country during the last five years, the Commerce Ministry said in a written reply that Pakistan’s exports were recorded at $ 20,787 million in fiscal year 2015-16, $ 20,422 million in fiscal year 2016-17, $ 23,212 million in 2017-18, $ 22,958 million in 2018-19, $ 21,394 million in 2019-20 and $ 18,687 from July 2020 to March 2021. In response to another question posed by Kamran Murtaza regarding total amount of grant and loans received from abroad by the government to combat COVID-19, the data provided by Economic Affairs Minister Omar Ayub Khan revealed that $ 3,697.96 million were committed and $ 3,098.59 million disbursed in terms of foreign economic assistance for mitigating socio-economic and health impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Mushtaq Ahmad from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said, the pace of Covid vaccination in the country is alarmingly slow. He said an international organisation reported that India would vaccinate its population in the next three years while Pakistan would vaccinate its population in next 18 years.

“There are millions of Pakistanis, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including ex-FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) that do not have CNICs (Computerised National Identity Cards) and they remain deprived of vaccination. What is the government doing about them?” he asked.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said federal government aims to vaccinate 78 million population in the next three years. He said the vaccination capacity has been increased to vaccinate 100,000 citizens per day.

So far, 1.5 million people have been fully vaccinated and 3.2 million partially vaccinated, he said.

“In the first phase, government’s vaccination was for 70-year and above - then 60-year and above- then people falling in their50s- then 40s- and now vaccination has been opened for the entire adult population— we are determined to reach out to everyone,” Khan said.

Federal government is mainly using three vaccines from China in the vaccination drive; Sinopharm, Sinovac and Cansino to provide free vaccination to citizens while Britain’s AstraZeneca provided by COVAX and Sputnik by Russia are also in use, he said.

Regarding vaccination for those who do not have CNICs, the minister said, “Let me give a policy statement here… Those who don’t have CNICs will also be vaccinated and a mechanism is being chalked out in this regard.

There are other methods of identification— we will not say that those who do not have ID cards will not be vaccinated— the government will reach out to each and every citizen and we would make sure no one is left behind as far as vaccination against coronavirus is concerned,” he said. The House would meet again on Monday at 3:30pm.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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