Pakistan to receive $2.1 billion loan from China by March 25

In this file photo, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, and China’s Premier Li Keqiang attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019

Pakistan to receive $2.1 billion loan from China by March 25

  • Pakistani finance ministry says loan will “help improve foreign exchange reserves and ensure balance of payment stability”
  • Pakistan also “closely engaged” in bailout discussions with the IMF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will receive a loan worth $2.1 billion from staunch ally China by Monday, the Pakistani finance ministry said, an injection that will help stabilize a wobbly economy hurt by a shortage of dollars plus ballooning current account and fiscal deficits.
Pakistan has been searching for investment from friendly countries since the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have each offered Islamabad loan packages of $3 billion. Islamabad is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout deal expected to be signed next month. 
Unlike China and countries in the Middle East, the IMF is likely to demand painful structural reforms that might clash with the political agenda of Khan, who on the campaign trail vowed to build an Islamic welfare state.
“All procedural formalities for the loan worth $2.1 billion from China have been completed,” Dr. Khaqan Hassan Najeeb, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, told Arab News, adding that the amount would be deposited in the central bank of Pakistan by March 25 to “help improve foreign exchange reserves and ensure the balance of payment stability.”
In November last year, China promised to support Pakistan’s economy following a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Khan. The two countries also share the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure program in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.
On Friday, Gerry Rice, Director of Communications at the IMF, said at a press conference that the Fund was “closely engaged” in discussions with Pakistan for a loan deal and would take a mission to Pakistan “shortly.”
“I can’t put a date on when they [discussions] would conclude or when we would be in a position to announce agreement,” Rice added.
Fitch Solutions, a statistical rating organization headquartered in New York, said in a statement last month that Pakistan and the IMF could reach an agreement for a potential bailout package of about $12 billion.


Use of contraceptives to bring down Pakistan's population growth rate to 1.1% – official

Updated 08 July 2020

Use of contraceptives to bring down Pakistan's population growth rate to 1.1% – official

  • More than five million babies are born in the country every year
  • Pakistan also plans to reduce maternal mortality rate from 170 to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030

KARACHI: Pakistan plans to encourage the use of contraceptives to bring down its current population growth rate from 2.4 percent to 1.1 percent by 2030, a senior official told Arab News on Tuesday.
The country has developed a National Action Plan (NAP) to implement the recommendations of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) approved in 2018 to address the challenge of population growth.
“The plan consists of various components, such as population fund, legislation, curriculum and trainings, and talking to ulema [or religious scholars],” Dr. Shahid Hanif, Director General of the Population Program Wing (PPW), said.
It also seeks to increase the present contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 34 percent to 50 percent by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030 to lower the existing average population growth rate of 2.4 percent to 1.5 percent by 2025 and to 1.1 percent by 2030. Officials say they hope to achieve these targets by reducing the present fertility rate of 3.6 births per woman to 2.8 births by 2025 and 2.2 births per woman by 2030.
At the current rate, the annual population grows by an average of more than five million newborn babies per year. After the growth rate is brought down to 1.1 percent, however, the average addition would be down to 2.3 million on an annual basis, keeping in view the country’s current population of 211.17 million.
The country’s federal and provincial administrations are taking steps to ensure universal access to family planning and reproductive health care services. The federal government wants to create a five-year non-lapsable special fund to reduce the population growth rate with an annual allocation of Rs 10 billion. The fund will be set up exclusively from federal resources without any cut from the provincial funds, according to the latest Economic Survey of Pakistan.
“Provinces have been given funding for more lady health workers and commodities [contraceptives] since the federal government will provide a matching grant to them,” Hanif said
One of the functions of the Population Program Wing is to ensure contraceptive commodity security, supply chain management and warehousing of contraceptives for provincial and regional population welfare departments.
A Contraceptives Commodity Security Working Group (CCSWG) has also been established to ensure the availability of birth control commodities, their timely procurement, pooled distribution, stock assessment and data availability etc
“With a manageable population, we will be able to utilize our resources more effectively for the welfare of people and our national economy. This is important since about two-third of Pakistan’s population is below the age of 20. These people need education, health and other facilities. If these individuals don’t get basic necessities, the country may witness huge social disruption in the future,” Hanif added.
However, he categorically ruled out that the country was considering “one child” policy, saying “it was never discussed nor thought about.”
The reduction of maternal mortality rate from 170 to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030 is also among the objectives of the plan.