Yes, you read it right. This has become a question everyone has been asking after a senior minister sparked a storm on social media after he recommended that Pakistanis reduce the daily intake of their favorite chai to help curtail the country’s import bill amidst a rising economic crisis.
For months now, Pakistan has been dealing with a worsening economic crisis, which has led to a sharp increase in the cost of food, gas, and oil. The country’s foreign currency reserves have been dwindling, leaving the country in dire need of funds. This situation is prompting the government to take extreme steps, including ministers appealing to the people of Pakistan that they should reduce their chai intake by one or two cups daily because “we borrow money for tea import as well.”
According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Pakistan is one of the world’s biggest importers of tea, buying more than $640 million worth in 2020. The import of items like cars, cosmetics, mobile phones, toiletries, and cigarettes has also been restricted in the country.
The economic crisis was at the center of the political showdown between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his predecessor Imran Khan, which ultimately ended with Khan’s ouster in a no-confidence vote. The Sharif government has been saddled with the unenviable task of combating rising inflation and bringing the economy back on track.
Pakistan has now sought the support of the United States for the revival of the International Monetary Fund program as the global lender is yet to agree to a staff-level pact despite the federal government’s claim to have taken many difficult decisions.
According to reports, despite three main rounds of talks, including two by the incumbent government, and multiple virtual contacts, the IMF did not share the draft of the Memorandum for Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) with Pakistan till Thursday afternoon.
The US has been gracious in lending its support to Pakistan after the controversial support that the country showed towards Russia and China in the past. But the US’s stamp of approval has become essential for Pakistan to make sure its economy does not go the same way as Sri Lanka.
We definitely hope Pakistanis are out of this soup soon and can go back to enjoying their chai without having to put the country’s economy at risk.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.