Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank rose by $276 million to $3.2 billion in the week ending on February 10, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Thursday.

According to the state bank, net foreign reserves held by commercial banks stood at $5.5bn, bringing the country’s total liquid foreign reserves to $8.7bn.

Arif Habib Ltd calculated that the current reserves would cover a little more than two weeks of imports.

Last week, the country’s foreign exchange reserves had fallen below Rs3bn on account of external debt payments.

The government is racing to implement new tax measures and reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The agreement with the Fund on the completion of the ninth review of a $7bn loan programme would not only lead to a disbursement of $1.2bn but also unlock inflows from friendly countries.

Pakistan held 10 days of intensive talks with an IMF delegation in Islamabad — from Jan 31 to Feb 9 — but could not reach a final deal.

The IMF, however, later said that both sides have agreed to stay engaged and “virtual discussions will continue in the coming days to finalise the implementation details” of the policies discussed in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings agency has also downgraded Pakistan’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) to ‘CCC-’, from ‘CCC+’ due to worsening liquidity, political volatility and decline of foreign-exchange reserves to critically low levels. A CCC minus rating denotes a very high level of default risk.

In a note defining its action, Fitch explained that the downgrading reflects further sharp deterioration in external liquidity and funding conditions and the decline of foreign exchange reserves to critically low levels.

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