Pakistan aims to borrow another $8.2b in the coming year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to obtain $8.1 billion new loans in next fiscal year for project and budget financing – 27 per cent or $3 billion – less than the revised budget estimates for the outgoing year, suggesting that the government is not telling its exact borrowing plan to parliament.

The Finance Ministry estimated receiving $8.1 billion – or Rs853 billion – in foreign economic assistance for fiscal year 2017-18, said sources in the ministry. New loans will be obtained to return a few previous loans and to finance projects of federal, provincial and autonomous bodies.

Just as the outgoing fiscal year’s original budget estimates of $8 billion, the plan for the new year also appears highly unrealistic in view of the country’s higher foreign financing requirements.

The Foreign Economic Assistance plan for 2017-18 will be tabled in parliament on Friday when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will present his government’s fifth budget.

For fiscal year 2016-17, the government had budgeted $8 billion in foreign loans, but it has now revised the estimates upwards. New estimates showed that actual foreign borrowings might even cross the $11-billion-mark, sources said. If the revised borrowing plan materialises, this will be the highest-ever borrowing in a single year in the country’s history.

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