ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Friday claimed that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have increased by $500 million in last one week that took the reserves held by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to $3.4 billon.

Talking to the media here, Finance Minister has claimed that reserves surged by $500 million in one week period. He said that foreign exchange reserves currently stood at $3.4 billion, which was $2.9 billion during last week. The reserves come down to the lowest level $2.9 billion on December 6, which was lowest since 2001 and were sufficient to cover less than three weeks imports.

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan is likely to receive $550 million from International Monetary Fund (IMF) in next few days which would also help in building the depleting reserves. The IMF board is scheduled to meet on the first review of the programme on the 19th December. And if the staff level agreement with the authorities is approved, about $550 million would be made available to Pakistan.

Senator Ishaq Dar further informed the media that government has no plan to increase domestic gas tariff. “No proposal is under consideration to increase gas tariff for domestic consumers”, said the Finance Minister. However, he said that government could not afford to provide gas at cheaper rates to the industrial consumers, as industries purchase gas at Rs 6 and generate electricity produced from this gas at Rs 14. The government could generate Rs 53 billion by increasing gas prices for industrial consumers, he maintained.

Finance Minister vowed to fulfil the commitments made by his party during the election campaign. He reiterated to resolve the energy crisis and said that government has cleared the mounting circular debt of Rs 480 billion in just 45 days. Senator Dar said that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government has generated 14000 megawatt electricity within short time, which would be enhanced to 22000 megawatt in next three and half years, he added.

He said that government would compensate to truck association before December 31, which were set on fire by the protesters after the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The previous government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had agreed to pay Rs 242 million to them as compensation, but they did not honour their commitment, Dar said and added that PML-N would honour the agreement with truck association.

Talking about the recent initiative of his government ‘Youth Business Loan Scheme’, Finance Minister said the government wanted to empower youth of the country by making them self-reliance.