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Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities continue to rise

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Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities increased by $ 3 billion or 2.6 per cent over the six months ended last December, data from the countries ’central banks showed. By December, external debt and liabilities stood at $ 115.7 billion compared to $ 112.7 billion by the end of June. Total external debt and liabilities were $ 110.7 billion as of December 2019, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Economist Ashfaque Khan told Pak Daily The News International that debt and external liabilities (EDL) were rising sharply even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic due to falling exports, sharp exchange rate depreciation, tight monetary policy and a decline in non-debt creating inflows. However, COVID-19 has further intensified the country’s debt situation, Khan said. When Pakistan is in the IMF [International Monetary Fund] program, debt accumulates rapidly.

Khan, principal and dean at the NUST School of Social Sciences, said external debt and liabilities are expected to reach $ 120 billion by the end of this fiscal year. State Bank data further showed that an expansion in EDL occurred in the public and private sectors, according to a News International news report. A large increase in external debt came from disbursements from multilateral donors and bilateral creditors. Public external debt reached $ 90.5 billion by December 31, 2020 compared to $ 87.8 billion by the end of June. That was recorded at $ 87.6 billion by the end of December 2019, according to the News International report.

Government external debt increased to $ 74.8 billion in July-December FY2021 from $ 70.3 billion a year earlier, according to the aforementioned report. Long-term external debt stood at $ 73.9 billion at the end of December, up from $ 68.7 billion at the end of June. It reached $ 68.1 billion a year ago. Debt accumulated through multilateral sources increased to $ 33.1 billion from $ 30.8 billion. Loans from bilateral sources stood at $ 14.6 billion, compared to $ 13.4 billion. The IMF debt reached $ 7.4 billion by December compared to $ 7.6 billion in June.

SBPs figures further showed that external debt service grew by 1.1 percent to $ 3.5 billion in the second quarter of this fiscal year. The government paid $ 2.9 billion as principal, while the remaining $ 617 million was paid as interest. Pakistan secured $ 1.7 billion debt relief from the G-20 countries, along with Paris Club creditors under the debt service suspension initiative, announced to provide fiscal space for stress-stricken economies Covid-19 and blockage.

The rise in EDL may put pressure on foreign exchange reserves. Central banks’ foreign exchange reserves fell $ 82 million to $ 12.9 billion from February 4 this year due to external debt repayments.

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