Cash-strapped Pak urges people to reduce tea consumption
Islamabad: Cash-strapped Pakistan government has urged people to cut down the consumption of tea as sipping fewer cups a day would help reduce the import bill eating into the nation’s depleting foreign exchange reserves. The appeal from Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal came after it emerged that Pakistan consumed tea worth Rs 83.88 billion (USD 400 million) in the fiscal year 2021-22, The News International newspaper reported.
He said that Pakistan, the biggest importer of tea in the world, has to borrow money to import it.
“I appeal to the nation to cut down the consumption of tea by 1-2 cups because we import tea on loan,” Iqbal said while speaking to reporters here on Tuesday.
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The federal budget document for the outgoing fiscal year showed that Pakistan imported Rs 13 billion (USD 60 million) worth of more tea than the last fiscal year.
In the fiscal year 2020-21, Rs 70.82 billion (USD 340 million) was spent on the import of tea, the News Network International news agency reported.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves dropped from around USD 16 billion in February to less than USD 10 billion in the first week of June, barely enough to cover the cost of two months of all its imports.
Last month, the government restricted the import of dozens of non-essential luxury items as part of its bid to save foreign exchange.
The planning minister said the traders’ community has also been asked to close markets by 8:30 PM to conserve energy.
Iqbal said this will help the country cut the import bill of petroleum products.
Recently, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail warned that Pakistan’s economy could be in a similar position as that of Sri Lanka if tough decisions were not taken.