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Alarm bells: SBP-held foreign exchange reserves plunge $956mn, stand at $7.96bn

  • Decrease attributed to external debt servicing
  • SBP says refinancing of loans in process, will improve foreign exchange reserves in coming weeks
Published November 10, 2022
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Foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) plunged $956 million on a weekly basis, clocking in $7.96 billion as of November 4, 2022, according to data released on Thursday.

Total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $13.72 billion. Net foreign reserves held by commercial banks clocked in at $5.76 billion.

SBP-held foreign exchange reserves increase $1.47bn, stand at $8.91bn

“During the week ended on November 4, 2022, SBP’s reserves decreased by $956 million to $7,957.0 million due to external debt servicing,” said SBP in a statement.

“Major external debt repayments executed during the week include repayment of government’s commercial loans.”

The SBP added that “refinancing of these loans was in process which would improve foreign exchange reserves in the coming weeks”.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced that the SBP will receive $500 million from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the ongoing month.

In a tweet, the finance minister shared that the AIIB board approved the funding as “co-financing of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded BRACE program for Pakistan.”

“These Funds will be received by State Bank of Pakistan within November 2022,” he said.

The SBP also received $1.5 billion from ADB on October 26, 2022 as disbursement of loan for the government of Pakistan.

In September, SBP’s reserves had increased as the central bank received the $1.2-billion tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Saudi Development Fund also rolled over a $3-billion deposit with the SBP, an amount that was due to mature in December 2022. However, this development was not meant to increase foreign exchange as the amount was already part of SBP’s reserves.

The reserves’ position is critical for Pakistan which has been desperately seeking dollar inflows to meet its balance-of-payments needs.

A low level of forex reserves has also put pressure on the currency that has only seen stability in recent days.

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