KARACHI - The foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan have increased almost equal to five months imports bill. At present, the total foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan are slightly higher than 10 billion dollars while in October last year, the reserves fell below the two months requirement of imports. In October, the foreign exchange reserves fell around 6.50 billion dollars out of which the reserves available with the State Bank of Pakistan at that time were at 3.1 billion dollars against the monthly imports of 3.25 billion dollars (in September 2008). Official sources said that from November last year (after the approval of IMF loan), on the one hand the foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan have improved while on the other the quantum of the monthly imports bill has declined sharply. For example in September last year the imports surged to 3.25 billion dollars while in December 2008 the imports squeezed to 2.12 billion dollars. Official sources said that in January the imports are expected to squeeze further because of fiscal measures taken by the government to restrict the penetration of imports of non-essential items and to alleviate the imports bill. Official sources said that the current national foreign exchange reserves are higher much than the anticipation of the International Monetary Fund officials. The IMF gave target to the government to raise foreign exchange reserves to 8.6 billion dollars by June 2009, but the reserves have inflated to over 10 billion dollars. Sources said that the adviser to prime minister on finance Shaukat Tarin and his team are making efforts to build the forex reserves to above 12 billion dollars by June 2009. They said that before June 2009 the economic team of the government was in a bid to raise foreign exchange from the donors agencies and major donor countries. In the meeting of the Friends of Pakistan, the government would present billions of dollars worth different development projects, said sources, adding the adviser has asked the authorities concerned to right-size the list of development projects that would be presented before the Friends of Pakistan to obtain financial assistance. In September 2008 the trade deficit once again reflected 62.13 per cent alarming growth while the imports marked 39.20 per cent growth, dashing the government's hopes of trimming these two indicators. In August last year the government raised customs duty to decelerate growth of non-essential items import while the State Bank of Pakistan ordered the 100 per cent cash margin requirement for opening the letter of credit for the imports of unnecessary items, classified by the government as non-essential items. Finally this strategy has yielded positive results and the imports and trade deficit have started shrinking, leading to a pleasant relief to government in stabilizing the reserves. In six months of this fiscal the trade deficit has reflected 15.27 per cent growth and amounted to 9.55 billion dollars, from 8.292 billion dollars in the corresponding period of last fiscal. However, in the second half of this fiscal the trade deficit and imports are set to nosedive sharply that would support the reserves. Worth noting is that in last two and a half financial years the country had lost a hefty amount of over 42 billion dollars in the shape of trade deficit, 13.20 billion dollars in FY07, 20 billion dollars in FY08 and 9.559 billion dollars in six months of this fiscal.