ISLAMABAD - As the total external debt in Pakistan has exceeded 66 billion dollars, the National Assembly was informed yesterday that the federal government has to pay around $25 billion to four financial lenders.

The lower house was told by Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Privatisation Senator Ishaq Dar that the payable loans by Pakistan to World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) stood at $25 billion.

The bulk of loan taken from the four financial institutions has been spent on welfare projects in Punjab and on the ongoing energy projects in country for plugging the electricity shortfall.

World Bank has given $13 billion followed by the ADB that has doled out payable loan worth $9.3 billion to Pakistan. The government has to pay $1,702 million to the Islamic Development Bank and $208 million to the IFAD.

The house was further informed in the same breadth that banks in Pakistan has written off loan worth Rs78 billion in the last five years.

In 2013, loan amounting to Rs17 billion was written off while in 2014, loan amounting to Rs12.6 billion was written off. Money taken from banks as loan in 2010, 2011 and 2012 amounting to Rs11.6 billion, Rs15 billion and Rs21 billion respectively was written off.

The house was asked by a lawmaker whether it was fact that International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the government to increase prices of natural gas in the country in order to enable the government to pay loan to the lenders.

In response, the minister for finance informed through a written answer that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has to enhance the prices to meet revenue target.

Major chunk of the $25 billion loan taken from the four lenders went to Punjab and Sindh as no project was initiated in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The house was told the money was utilised in projects in Punjab which include Punjab Barrages Improvement Program, Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Production, Punjab Education Sector-I, Punjab Cities Governance Improvement.

Similarly, Punjab Health Sector Reform Project, Punjab Public Management Reform Program, Land Record Management, Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Program was also funded from the loan.

The Khanewal-Multan Motorway Project (M-4 extension) was also initiated with the loan, including Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Investment Program

(Tranches-I, II & III) and Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Investment Program.

The projects that were launched in Sindh included Sindh Agricultural Growth, Sindh Education Sector-II, Karachi Port Improvement and Jamshoro Power Generation Project.

About the steps taken by the government to control transfer of money through illegal means, the minister said there was no exact figure regarding the total amount of money illegally transferred abroad.

However, he said the government has some measures to contain the illegal flow of money from country, including the enactment of Anti Money Laundering Act in 2010 and ratification of all relevant UN conventions and protocols in the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism) domain.

He said about the establishment of Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) with the mandate to receive, analyze Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs)/Currency transaction Reports (CTRs) and disseminate financial intelligence to the designated Law Enforcement Agencies NAB, FIA, ANF & DG (I&I)-FBR) and Financial Sector Regulators.