The Pakistani rupee has plunged to its all-time low of Rs 100 against US dollar in open market after the country made a payment of $146 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a stand-by arrangement loan.

The payment was the first of two instalments to be paid in February. The second instalment of $395 million is due on February 26, officials told the media.

The payment of $146 million put pressure on Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and took the rupee to a new low against US dollar.

After opening at 99.30 in open market, Pakistani rupee yesterday plunged to the 100 rupee mark. “This is the first time rupee has weakened to beyond 100 rupee mark,” Intikhab Ahmed, analyst, Capital Investments, said.

The Pakistani rupee was worth about 60 to a US dollar five years ago. Currency experts said the rupee had lost 39 per cent of its value against the US dollar since March 2008.

Experts further said Pakistani rupee is likely to remain under pressure because of repayments to the IMF as foreign exchange reserves have declined from $10.8 billion at the end of June 2012 to $8.7 billion on January 31, 2013.

It availed of the stand-by arrangement loan of $7.80 billion from IMF in March 2008 to cope with a fragile economy hit by terrorist attacks and lack of foreign investment.

According to State Bank of Pakistan, the country has to pay $4.8 billion to the IMF till June 2014.

Experts said Pakistan currently has funds to pay for the import of food, edible oil and crude oil for only two-and-half months.

Some experts said the country might even have to seek a fresh loan from the IMF to repay the earlier stand-by arrangement loan if steps are not taken to control the poor economic conditions and deteriorating law and order situation.

The government’s debt stood at over Rs 12.60 lakh crore on December 15, 2012, which was almost double that of Rs 6.37 lakh crore during the corresponding period in 2011.

(This article was published on February 12, 2013)
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