Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank increased by $280 million to $4.598 billion during the week ending on March 17, after receiving an inflow of a commercial loan.

“The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) received $500m as GoP commercial loan disbursement,” the central bank said. The country’s total foreign reserves, including commercial bank deposits, stood at $10.139bn on March 17.

Arif Habib Limited calculated that the reserves were enough to cover only about four weeks of necessary imports.

Last week, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had announced that Pakistan had another received the second instalment of $500 million from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), which had earlier approved a rollover of a $1.3bn loan.

The increase in forex reserves comes as short-term inflation measured by the Sensitive Price Index hit an all-time high of 46.65 per cent year-on-year (YoY) for the week ending on March 22, driven mainly by a major increase in food prices.

The coalition government and IMF have been negotiating since early February on an agreement that would release a $1.1bn tranche, from a $6.5bn bailout agreed upon in 2019, to the cash-strapped country.

The government has already implemented several fiscal measures, including devaluing the rupee, lifting subsidies and raising energy prices as preconditions for the agreement.

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