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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Jan-07- 13, 2002

Economic indicators pretty strong: Shaukat

Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said that Pakistan had built up foreign exchange reserves of $4.8 billion; the country had succeeded in securing a 3-year poverty reduction growth facility from IMF and achieved the Paris Club rescheduling of the entire stock of debt of about $12.5 billion, "which gives a 30 per cent reduction in net present value of our stock of debt".

Speaking at the Top Companies Awards-2000 ceremony of the Karachi Stock Exchange on Saturday evening, the finance minister said that in respect of liquidity, foreign exchange reserves and all other indicators, Pakistan's economy was the strongest in a long time.

"We now have reserves of several months of import, unlike for few days and weeks in the past," Aziz affirmed. He said the government's economic reforms agenda would relentlessly be pursued.

The finance minister claimed that in achieving the Paris Club rescheduling, Pakistan had pulled off a feat which only a few others like Poland, Jordan, Egypt and Yugoslavia could rival. Pakistan's entire stock of debt of about $12.5 billion has been rescheduled for a period of 38 years for concessional component and 23 years for non-concessional component, with grace periods of 15 and 5 years, respectively, he said.

"To gauge the relief impact in this exercise, one only needs to note that nearly 50 per cent of this debt was due for payment in the next 5-6 years," the finance minister said. He said that there were individuals creditors as well, who had either cancelled their debts or shown their willingness to swap them for social sector spending for up to $500 million.

"The true extent of relief will be determined once Pakistan works out bilateral agreements with its creditors," he added. Shaukat Aziz said that the events following the September 11 attacks on America had provided us with opportunities, as they had posed challenges. He said that as part of our decision to side with the international coalition, Pakistan had been freed from numerous sanctions.

SPI registers decline

The Sensitive Price Indicator for the week ended on December 27, has registered 0.33 per cent decrease over the corresponding week. And in comparison to the corresponding week ended on Dec 26, 2000, SPI registered a positive growth of 3.38 per cent.

However, the SPI has registered an increase of 0.55 per cent last week ended on December 20 in comparison to the corresponding week, which resulted into sharp