Shehbaz may seek $7.4bn Saudi aid package


Islamabad, April 28 : During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif may seek a $7.4 billion financial assistance package from the kingdom in the shape of cash deposits and oil on deferred payments, including rollover of the existing $4.2 billion facilities that are expiring by the end of this year. The request will be made during Sharif's three-day visit that would begin from Thursday, according to the Ministry of Finance officials, The Express Tribune reported. Finance Minister Miftah Ismail will also be part of the official entourage. Senior Ministry officials said that the government would seek $2 billion additional cash deposit in addition to the rollover of the existing $3 billion facility, which would mature by the end of this year. They said this time the country was seeking the loan for a longer than one year period, in addition to relaxation in terms of the previous agreement. In October last year, Saudi Arabia had announced giving $3 billion in cash deposit for one year and oil on deferred payment equal to $1.2 billion annually. However, the oil facility became operational only in March this year when the country lifted $100 million equivalent oil. The request will also be made to double the oil on deferred payments limit to $2.4 billion, according to the officials. The net additional financial assistance is $3.2 billion in the shape of cash deposits and oil on deferred payments, The Express Tribune reported. The last PTI government had obtained $3 billion cash at 4 per cent interest rate and the oil on deferred payments at 3.8 per cent rate for one year, according to the terms agreed between both countries. Unlike in the past, there was no option for the rollover of the Saudi loan and the country is required to return it at once after one year. /IANS


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