Deccan Chronicle

European Union offers 163 million USD package to Pakistan

Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent

Published on: May 8, 2020 | Updated on: May 8, 2020

A cash-strapped Pakistan government has been implementing austere measures to improve the country's finances amid the ongoing lockdown

A man gives food to women for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Lahore. (AP)

A man gives food to women for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Lahore. (AP)

Islamabad: The European Union has offered an aid package of more than USD 163 million to cash-strapped Pakistan to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and to boost the country's economic and security developments, the EU mission here said in a statement.

Pakistan has reported 25,837 coronavirus cases and 594 deaths, the health authorities said on Friday.

Androulla Kaminara, the EU Ambassador to Pakistan, met prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday to reiterate the 27-member economic bloc's commitment to support Pakistan during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis, according to a statement by the EU.

She presented 26 billion Pakistan Rupees (over USD 163 million) COVID-19 package that the EU has put together in support to Pakistan, according to the statement

It said that the EU was directing more than 26 billion Pakistan Rupees (over USD 163 million) towards the short and medium term response in the emerging health crisis in Pakistan and into strengthening the preparedness of Pakistan's people for its social and economic impact, with a specific focus on the most vulnerable.

Ambassador Kaminara and the PM also discussed how Pakistan and the EU can further benefit from a stronger political partnership in light of the political, economic and security developments.

A longstanding friend and partner of Pakistan, the European Union stands side by side with Pakistan as the country faces the extraordinary challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaminara said.

The prime minister briefed the ambassador on the government's vision and action to fight COVID-19.

Ambassador Kaminara lauded the governments' efforts, including the scale-up of the Ehsaas programme for the most vulnerable and poor. She pointed out the opportunities of the partnership with the EU as major trade partner and key donor in Pakistan.

The package and the EU's overall long-standing support to Pakistan are to be seen in addition to EU Member States' generous co-funding of the lending and operational capacity of multilateral institutions currently assisting Pakistan and numerous other countries around the world in addressing the crisis, according to the EU.

The cash-strapped Pakistan government has been implementing austerity measures to improve the country's finances. The country's foreign currency reserves had dropped to a four-month low at USD 10.97 billion on April 10, 2020.

On May 6, the Asian Development Bank and Pakistan finalised a USD 305 million emergency COVID-19 loan to help the country buy medical equipment and disburse money to poor women.

Last month, Pakistan had received an emergency loan of USD 1.39 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an aid of USD 200 million from the World Bank (WB).

While the IMF loan was to boost Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the WB aid focused on supporting preparedness and emergency response in the health sector.

The virus has also adversely hit the country's economy. On Tuesday, Pakistan requested the members of G-20 nations for debt relief with a commitment of not contracting new non-concessional loans except those allowed under the IMF and World Bank guidelines.

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