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Pakistan rupee sinks below 100 mark against dollar

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KARACHI: The Pakistani rupee on Monday sank to an all-time low against the US dollar over forex reserve fears as the country repaid $146 million to the International Monetary Fund.

The rupee fell to 100.1 to the greenback in trading in Karachi, down from 99.30 on the open market Friday, and has now lost 39 percent of its value against the US currency since March 2008.

“We have traded the dollar at Rs 100.1, although there is a slight difference on the open market,” said currency dealer Mohammad Arshad.

The official inter-bank rate for the dollar is Rs 98, but Mohammad Sohail, who heads brokerage firm Topline Securities, confirmed it had crossed 100 on the open market.

Pakistan had a $10.7 billion IMF loan until September, but had drawn only about a third of it. The government has indicated it would not seek a new loan.

Pakistan repaid $145.79 million to the IMF on Monday and is scheduled to repay another $375 million on February 26, according to Syed Wasimuddin, spokesman for the country’s central State Bank. So far Pakistan has repaid $2.57 billion, $1.5 million this fiscal year, ending June 30, according to the central bank.

“The rupee is likely to remain under pressure because of IMF repayments,” said Sohail. “The foreign exchange reserves have declined to $8.7 billion as of January 31 from $10.8 billion at end-June 2012,” said the central bank last week.

The IMF last November urged Pakistan to reduce its large budget deficit to bolster the struggling economy’s resiliency, noting that foreign exchange reserves under $10 billion were below adequate levels. afp

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