Economy in Shambles, Pakistanis Asked to Drink Less Tea to Cut Imports
ISLAMABAD, (IANS) – Pakistanis have been asked to reduce the amount of tea they drink to keep the country’s economy afloat.
Sipping fewer cups a day would cut Pakistan’s high import bills, Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal said.
The country’s low foreign currency reserves — currently enough for fewer than two months of all imports — have left it in urgent need of funds.
Pakistan is the world’s largest importer of tea, buying more than $600m worth last year.
“I appeal to the nation to cut down the consumption of tea by one to two cups because we import tea on loan,” Iqbal said.
Business traders could also close their market stalls at 20:30 to save electricity, he suggested.
The plea came as Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves continue to fall rapidly — putting pressure on the government to cut high import costs and keep funds in the country.
The request to reduce tea drinking has gone viral on social media, with many doubting the country’s serious financial problems can be addressed by cutting out the beverage.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves dropped from around $16 billion in February to less than $10 billion in the first week of June, barely enough to cover the cost of two months of all its imports.
Last month, officials in Karachi restricted the import of dozens of non-essential luxury items as part of their bid to protect funds.