In meeting with PM Shehbaz, UAE president ‘allocates’ $10bn investment in Pakistan

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Premier’s Abu Dhabi visit bears fruit as Shehbaz Sharif says “begging bowl broken”

DUBAI: In a major development, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced allocating $10 billion for more investments in Pakistan, the Prime Minister’s Office said Thursday, as the cash-strapped South Asian nation seeks foreign influx of cash amid financial straits.

The move came during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s meeting with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Gulf state, where the premier is on a day-long visit.

The decision has been take “to strengthen the Pakistani economy, support it, and enhance cooperation between the two countries”, UAE’s WAM news agency reported.

Pakistan is seeking investment from brotherly nations to boost its economy as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led government explores avenues to boost reserves and reduce high inflation.

Saudi Arabia, as per federal ministers, has also pledged to expedite $5 billion in investment, while the kingdom’s foreign minister said last month that Riyadh would be “moving ahead significantly” to invest in projects in Pakistan. 

Earlier today in his maiden visit as elected prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif also told an event that Pakistan is seeking collaboration with friendly nations as “gone are the days” when officials will visit brotherly countries with begging bowls.

“Gone are the days that I will go to our brotherly countries with begging bowl. I have broken that bowl,” the premier said.

The country’s total foreign exchange reserves stand at a comfortable position of $14.5 billion, as of May 17, while the State Bank of Pakistan-held reserves are at 9.15 billion after a meagre increase.

Pakistan also last month completed a short-term $3 billion programme, which helped stave off sovereign default, but the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz has stressed the need for a fresh, longer-term programme.

Pakistan narrowly averted default last summer, and its $350 billion economy has stabilised after the completion of the last IMF programme, with inflation coming down to around 17% in April from a record high 38% last May.

It is still dealing with a high fiscal shortfall and while it has controlled its external account deficit through import control mechanisms, it has come at the expense of stagnating growth, which is expected to be around 2% this year compared to negative growth last year.

Pakistan is seeking at least $6 billion and request additional financing from the Washington-based lender under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.