Pakistan to repay $1 billion bond early: central bank chief

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 Pakistan to repay $1 billion bond early: central bank chief
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By Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam


ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan will repay a $1 billion international bond on Dec. 2, three days before its due date, the governor of Pakistan's central bank told a briefing on Friday.

There has been growing uncertainty about the ability of Pakistan to meet external financing obligations with the country in the midst of an economic crisis and recovering from devastating floods that killed over 1,700 people.

The bond repayment, which matures on Dec. 5, totals $1.08 billion, Jameel Ahmad, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, told a briefing, according to two analysts who were present.

Ahmad added that funding has been lined up from multilateral and bilateral sources to ensure the repayment would not affect foreign exchange reserves. An immediate inflow of $500 million was expected next week on Tuesday from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, he said.

Pakistan's reserves with the central bank stood at $7.8 billion as of Nov. 18, barely enough to cover a month's imports.

Ahmad said reserve levels will depend on the continued realisation of expected inflows and rollover of loans from friendly countries, but added he was confident the reserve figure will be "much higher" by the end of the financial year in June 2023.

He told the briefing he expects external financing requirements would be met on time because of inflows from international lenders. He pointed out that, despite payments of $1.8 billion in November, reserves remained stable.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said earlier this week that Pakistan's timely finalisation of a recovery plan from devastating floods is essential to support discussions and continued financial support from multilateral and bilateral partners.

Pakistan is currently in an IMF bailout programme, which it entered in 2019, but a firm date for the ninth review to release much-needed funds is pending even as it battles a full-blown economic crisis, with decades-high inflation and low reserves.

The central bank raised its key policy rate by 100 basis points to 16% on Friday in an unexpected move to ensure high inflation does not get entrenched.

(Reporting by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, William Maclean)

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