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China, Pakistan agree to enhance high-level exchanges in view of current global situation: Spokesperson

BEIJING: China and Pakistan have agreed to enhance high-level exchanges and strengthen pragmatic cooperation for more progress in the bilateral relations in wake of the changing international situation, a spokesperson of Chinese foreign ministry Thursday said.

“The two sides also agreed to jointly implement the consensus reached by our two leaders during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum for the International Cooperation,” Lu Knag said while responding to a question asked by APP regarding a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Bishkek.

He informed that the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who is a good friend on the sidelines of their SCO foreign ministers meeting held the other day.

“Both sides believe that the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership is deepened in our Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation” he added.

Lu Kang said both the sides agreed to jointly implement the consensus reached by the two leaders during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum held during the last month.

He said faced with the current international situation, the two countries agreed to enhance high-level exchanges and deepen our practical cooperation for more progress in their bilateral relations.

The spokesperson said the two foreign ministers also discussed some international cooperation on some important issues for example the counter-terrorism.

“Both sides agreed to deepen our cooperation on bilateral and multilateral occasions,” he added.

He said both sides also discussed some other issues including the Afghan situation, the solution to this issue and reached many important consensuses in other areas.

Meanwhile, according to a Chinese foreign ministry’s statement issued here, Wang Yi during the meeting told his Pakistani counterpart that China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership had been deepened and promoted in the process of building the “Belt and Road”.

The two sides should jointly implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China for participation in the second Belt and Road International Cooperation Summit, strengthen high-level exchanges, deepen pragmatic cooperation, and promote China-Pakistan relations.

Wang Yi said the Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s long-term efforts to combat terrorism. “It hopes and believes in that the Pakistani side will strengthen security work for Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan and safeguard the security of China-Pakistan cooperation.”

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan was willing to work with China to prepare for the next stage of high-level exchanges between the two countries, implement the results of the second “Belt and Road” international cooperation summit forum, strengthen the cooperation between the two countries and promote new achievements in bilateral relations.

The Pakistani side was fully consistent with the Chinese goal in combating terrorism and extremism. Both sides shared the same feelings and the same fate. The concern of the Chinese side was the concern of the Pakistani side.

The Pakistani side would do its utmost to protect the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan, and continue to strengthen bilateral anti-terrorism cooperation under the dual multilateral framework and safeguard the common interests of the two countries and regional peace and stability.

The two sides also exchanged views on the Afghan issue and agreed to strengthen communication and coordination, jointly promote the early political settlement of the Afghan issue, and maintain regional peace and stability.

Date: 24/5/2019

Source: The News

Success of CPEC linked to job opportunities for Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can only become a success if jobs are provided to the local people and Chinese companies are made bound to do businesses through joint ventures.

Transfer of technology should also be ensured otherwise local people would never be benefited by the CPEC projects. Moreover, there should be equal opportunities for Chinese and local companies to do business.

These views were expressed by participants of an event, “Rural Development and Industrialisation in Pakistan” organised by Rural Development Foundation (RDF) at Islamabad Club on Monday.

Representative of Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) Dr Abdur Rehman Cheema said though people of rural areas wanted jobs but he was doubtful if the Chinese companies would provide jobs to them.

Experts say Chinese companies should be made bound to do businesses through joint ventures

“Chinese companies completed projects worth $16 billion in different countries but employed 40,000 Chinese labourers on those projects. We need to make sure that it should not happen in Pakistan,” he said.

However, speaking about the positive points of the partnership with China, Dr Cheema said China focuses on financial issues and has no political interests.

He suggested that CPEC must aim to benefit local people.

Assistant Professor at Comsats University Dr Tahir Mumtaz Awan said the ‘One belt and one road’ was a project aimed at integration of 60 countries and five continents.

“It is a new Silk Route but the problem is local communities might not be integrated. Despite this, it is hoped that because of CPEC Gwadar will become more developed than Dubai. However, we should retain our land and suggest the Chinese to do businesses through joint ventures rather than pushing us to sell our assets such as land. Moreover, transfer of technology should also be ensured,” he said.

Former ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dr Manzoor Ahmed said things were changed rapidly because of CPEC. He said a few years ago Pakistan was losing eight to 10 billion dollars every year due to power shortage but because of CPEC the energy crisis was addressed.

“Moreover, tremendous development has been made in infrastructure. A number of roads are constructed due to which travel duration has reduced by half of the time. However, I have concerns that a number of statutory regulatory orders (SROs) have been issued allowing Chinese companies to bring machinery and equipment free of tax. There should be similar exemptions for the local businessmen otherwise they will not be able to compete. I also suggest that steps should be taken to increase the per acre yield of crops,” he said.

Deputy Chief of Party USAID-TDEA Rashid Chaudhry said because of a decision of the Federal Shariat Court, Pakistan had lost an opportunity for land reforms.

Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation Farrukh Toirov said by 2050 population of the globe would reach nine to 10 billion so agriculture products have to be increased by almost 60 per cent.

“Though 60pc population of Pakistan lives in rural areas small sizes of farms will be an issue as it would be difficult to increase the per acre yield,” he said.

Earlier, Deputy Director RDF Sanaa Khetran said fundamental rights of farmers and those connected to agriculture should be secured and safeguarded and an environment of trust should be maintained.

First Secretary at the embassy of China Jia Wei was the chief guest but he did not address the participants.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Wei said CPEC had entered into the second phase.

“In the first phase, focus was on infrastructure and now in the second phase the focus is on industrialisation. Industrial zones are being built across the country and I hope more investment will come to Pakistan as Prime Minister Imran Khan has signed more MoUs during his visit to China,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019

Author: Ikram Junaidi

Pakistan, China delegations discuss timelines of Rashakai SEZ

ISLAMABAD: 

Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has strategic significance because it is closer to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, said Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif.

He was chairing a meeting with China Road and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC), led by Director Shi Xiaobo, to discuss the timelines for making Rashakai SEZ operational.

Sharif added that BOI was strengthening its capacity to create specific desks and teams to deal with investors from different countries as well as to work on important assignments including SEZs with a particular focus on Rashakai SEZ.

During the meeting, incentive package to be allocated for the Rashakai SEZ was also discussed.

The BOI chairman stressed the need for a regular monthly meeting and invited all stakeholders to fast track the progress on Rashakhai SEZ. While discussing the importance of Rashakai SEZ, CRBC director termed the project a role model for other planned SEZs.

He was of the view that Rashakai Special Economic Zone would lead to industrial development, which would in turn create employment opportunities and generate economic activity while the combined efforts of all stakeholders would be crucial for the success of the project.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2019.

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Stop Spinning CPEC’s Finances

Source: CRSS Blog

Date: 30th December 2018

Author: Yasir Masood

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), since its inception, has been engulfed in perpetual slip-ups both on internal and external fronts. These slip-ups are being purported against the CPEC and China-Pakistan bilateral ties. The opposition of CPEC on various sets of juxtapositions, backed by far-fetched analyses, perhaps make some sense to its “critics”. But entrapping it with innovative, biased, or “planned” analyses by our very own critics (or “experts”) is surely no less than a sorry state of affairs.

Time and again, the Chinese Consulate, Ministry of Planning, and CPEC affiliated line ministries, including the CPEC-Centre of Excellence, have been promoting the true picture of CPEC, based on facts and figures for the furtherance of the true narrative amongst the masses in the best interests of both the nations. But it seems that some of our “experts” are bent on risking their country’s future – which significantly relies on CPEC — by disseminating unusual analyses, particularly pertaining to CPEC finances and debts without knowing its true picture.

At this critical juncture, when the CPEC is about to take off, persistent, durable, pragmatic and workable measures are needed by Pakistan to secure it from all dimensions and corners. Spinning and twisting the facts and figures would only play into the hands of those who would never wish to see the CPEC up and running.

Amidst the “Hybrid Warfare”, especially through social media, which is imposed upon CPEC from near and far, yet another piece, in line with the ongoing campaign against the CPEC, appeared in the local press last week. This piece focusing on CPEC’s debt burden — claiming it to be $40 billion — by putting all the financial modalities of CPEC into one basket, was again way off the mark.

The Ministry of Planning Development and Reform, within no time, refuted the fudged and misleadingly calculated $40 billion debt against CPEC. Although, it is imperative to break down the finances of CPEC. In this regard, the Chinese Consulate stepped up and further enlightened the reality of CPEC finances as under:

Details of CPEC Financing:

Thus far, 22 early harvest projects under CPEC have been completed or are under construction, with a total investment of $18.9 billion. These projects aim at resolving two major bottlenecks hindering economic development of Pakistan, namely lack of transportation infrastructure and energy shortage. The financing details of 22 projects are as follows:

“The Chinese Government provided concessional loans of $ 5.874 billion for Pakistan Government’s major transportation infrastructure projects, with a composite interest rate of around 2% in a repayment period of 20-25 years. The Pakistani government provides a sovereign guarantee for the above loans and will start the repayment from 2021.

Moreover, “the Chinese companies and their partners invested $ 12.8 billion in energy projects in Pakistan. Among them, Chinese companies provide $3 billion from their own equity. The rest $ 9.8 billion is raised from commercial banks with an interest rate of about 5%. The repayment period is 12-18 years. All the CPEC energy projects are the investment in nature, which is purely dependent on individual business behaviour of these companies”, the document revealed.

“The companies are responsible for their own profits and losses and repayment of loans. The Pakistani government does not repay these loans under CPEC. The business cooperation between the two sides is in full compliance with internationally accepted business practices”, further clarified the document.

“The Chinese government provides interest-free loans for Expressway East Bay in Gwadar and provides a grant for some livelihood projects as well”, revealed by the document.

In addition, Pakistan’s Government has provided funding for the feasibility study of ML-1 upgradation.

“Therefore, Pakistan will repay only $ 6.017 billion (Category I $ 5.874 billion and Category III $ 0.143 billion) and their interests to China.”

In the second phase of the CPEC, China and Pakistan are discussing how to use Chinese grant to implement new projects such as new Gwadar international airport, Gwadar vocational training center and friendship hospital, etc. Once the financial details are available, they will be shared.

During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China in November 2018, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to CPEC and agreed to ensure the normal operation of the completed projects and the smooth completion of the on-going projects. The two sides also agreed to consult with each other on the future path and direction of CPEC, taking consideration of Pakistan’s priority of economic and social development and the demand of Pakistani people.

On December 20th, 2018, China and Pakistan successfully held the 8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting of CPEC in Beijing and decided to set up a socio-economic joint working group under the rubric of CPEC.

It was also agreed that “the Chinese side will provide more support to the people’s livelihood projects such as education, agriculture, poverty alleviation, health care and vocational training.” Furthermore, both sides signed an MOU on industrial cooperation and agreed to jointly promote the construction of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The CPEC expansion with focused priorities is already charted by the Government of Pakistan along with the due consultation of the Chinese side.

The Chinese Consulate on its part has been regularly revealing and educating about the CPEC as a “game-changer” concept. Similarly, there is a consensus amongst the Pakistani masses including all the Government bodies, Military forces, Political parties and the rest of the segments of the society are fully cognizant of this ongoing “Hybrid Warfare” against the CPEC and firmly supporting it to secure our national interest.

The Author is working as a Deputy Director Media and Publications at Centre of Excellence-CPEC and is also a Lead Editor of CPEC Quarterly Magazine. He frequently writes for the National and International English Dailies and regularly appears on different English and Urdu TV Channels as a CPEC and International Relations Analyst.

Pakistani cities’ security improved in recent years with progress in CPEC.

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 28 December 2018

BEIJING: The security in the cities of Pakistan has certainly improved in recent years with the progress in the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by China.

Take Peshawar, a city which has been hit by terrorism in northern Pakistan. The security has certainly improved in recent years with the progress in the CPEC, according to an article published by Global Times on Thursday.

Local people know that terrorism would stand in the way of Belt and Road projects, so they consciously resist the designs of anti-social elements, leading to a reduction in incidents of terrorism.

In northern Myanmar, the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the BRI has seen a marked improvement in security as the importance of peace and stability in facilitating the project dawns of the people. The fact is that the BRI is a geo-economic rather than geopolitical construct and has nothing to do with geopolitics in form or content.

China neither has the intention of forming alliances through the BRI nor plans to seek a sphere of influence. China seeks partners, not allies, in implementing the initiative.

The opponents are grossly mistaken in regarding the initiative as a geopolitical concept.

Some in the West call the BRI China’s Marshal Plan. They are two different things that are not comparable. The Marshall Plan was an American initiative providing aid to West European countries with the political motivation of containing the spread of Communism at the start of the Cold War.

In sharp contrast, the BRI is more about investment. Countries of different political systems are welcomed to participate and it doesn’t aim at a military alliance.

The significance of the BRI as a geo-economic concept lies in that it can help solve development problems some backward regions are grappling with and provide them enabling conditions for the same.

Japan and China have agreed to step up cooperation in infrastructure projects in third countries. Some Western countries such as Britain are eyeing closer cooperation with China under the BRI.

The initiative is open and inclusive; the more participants it draws in, the more secure and healthier its development. It will serve as a platform to step up cooperation among major powers.

In short, the BRI is a promising mechanism for economic cooperation, a new tool for managing security and a platform that can be used to explore more major-power cooperation.

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Projects for Thar, channelisation of Indus likely to be added in CPEC

Source: The News

Date: 27 Dec,2018

Two new projects are likely to be approved for their inclusion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will have an enormous impact on the overall development of the province.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this on Sunday while speaking to media persons after attending the convocation of the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University of Law (Szabul) at its Korangi campus. He was accompanied by Law and Information Adviser Murtaza Wahab.

Replying to a question, the CM said the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) was the highest forum for the CPEC and he attended its meeting in China last week. He added that the CPEC authorities had included two more sectors, agriculture and socio-economic development, in its projects’ list.

“I presented two projects in the JCC and most probably they would be approved by the relevant Joint Working Group in their meeting to be held in March,” Shah said.

One of the proposed projects is for the channelisation of 180 kilometres of the Indus River from Guddu Barrage to Sukkur Barrage. “It is a mega project and the provincial government is working to complete its required formalities,” the CM said.

According to Shah, changing the course of the Indus River would be enormously helpful for the development of the agriculture sector. It would not only save water but would also control waterlogging and salinity in the districts on both banks of the river, he said, adding that the project would also help save the area from floods and develop large agricultural lands in Katcha areas.

Commenting on the second project, the CM said he had informed the Chinese authorities that the Thar Foundation was working in education, health, socio-forestry and bio-saline agriculture in Thar. “I proposed them [Chinese authorities] to approve the project of Thar Foundation so that it could be implemented in the Thar area where a coal power plant was being established under CPEC,” he said.

Shah said the Chinese authorities concerned appreciated the efforts of the provincial government and referred the project to the Joint Working Group, which would meet in March 2019, for approval.

Convocation

Earlier, addressing the convocation ceremony of Szabul, the CM said his interest in the first-ever law university of Pakistan was from the days of its inception.

According to Shah, it was a matter of great pleasure for him that the Sindh government had succeeded in establishing the first law varsity of the country. The CM congratulated the vice chancellor, faculty and students of the university for achieving the milestone.

Addressing the graduating students, the CM said they were the judges and lawyers of tomorrow. “In fact, the performance of the justice sector is dependent on the quality of your professionalism, skills and knowledge,” Shah remarked and added that there was a strong link between the qualities of human resources available to judiciary and the functionality, integrity and legitimacy of the judicial system.

“I am confident that you will exceed the expectations of all of us and prove to be an asset [for] the country,” he said. The CM assured Vice Chancellor Qazi Khalid that he would provide him all the required funds to complete the under-construction building of Szabul in Korangi.

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Greek businesses give their backing to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Source: SMN

Writer: 

Date: 17th December 2018

Greek businesses and Chinese scholars voiced confidence in the prospects of Sino-Greek cooperation in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during a forum in Piraeus, Greece’s largest port which in recent years has become a strong symbol of the win-win bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The BRI was the main theme of the forum organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Piraeus (PCCI) and the Chinese Embassy in Greece, with its co-organiser Renmin University of China.

Reflecting on the achievements to date in this corner of the globe and along the 21st century’s Silk Road, five years after the launch of Beijing’s initiative, Greek and Chinese delegates explored the challenges lying ahead as the opportunities to further boost bilateral cooperation to benefit both sides, are seized.

Pointing to Sino-Greek cooperation at Piraeus port, Vassilis Korkidis, president of PCCI, said: “Greece can and should make further use of the opportunities opened up both from its key geopolitical position and from the primacy of Greek shipping to the global economic phenomenon.”

Piraeus Port Authority SA is managed by China’s Cosco Shipping Corp has managed the Piraeus Port Authority SA since 2016, and Piraeus Container Terminal SA since 2010, posting remarkable results as Piraeus advances to become top port in the Mediterranean and among the five largest container hubs in Europe.

Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zhang Qiyue stressed the BRI is proposed by China, but it is actually owned by the world, saying “it is also a call on the part of China to other countries to cooperate in any way we can”.

It is a good initiative for globalisation and the world to work together, not in isolation, the Chinese ambassador said, saying China is trying to align her development with the development strategies of other countries.

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CPEC to lift cement demand to record levels

Source: The Nation

Date: 17th December 2018

Lahore – The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is going to have huge impact on cement production level in the country, as the demand from the infrastructure and housing sector will surge to a record high with work on Gawadar Port, KKH Phase-II (Havelain-Thakot 120km) and the Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Sukkur-Multan 392km).

According to a report, the previous government in the country had also released Rs2.35 billion for the Housing and Works division.  The new government of PTI has assumed the power after general elections 2018 on the promise of constructing 50 lakh housing units, creating a huge demand of cement. The govt has now announced to construct 10,00,000 houses per year.

PM Imran Khan has repeatedly said they would bring economic revolution through housing. He said the private sector should come forward and work, and they would support them.

The increased production capacity along with high demand from housing infrastructure projects portrays a positive picture for the future of Pakistan’s cement sector. However, cement plants in Punjab are being brought under government regulation, with the Punjab Government halting the Plants on the pretext of environmental protection. The report also suggests that such policies if pursued can provide mixed outcomes for the cement sector in the future.

According to the report, another possible discouraging factor for the cement sector in Pakistan is the declining export figure that has dropped as compared to previous years.

According to the report, Pakistan’s cement industry is currently running at 95 percent capacity that has encouraged the domestic cement manufacturers to spend an estimated $2.25 billion on new production capacity.

5 years of Belt and Road initiative: Chinese vision for shared destiny

Source: Daily Times

Date: 14 th December 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani youth needs to get the required knowledge and skills to be able to part of the emerging new vision of economic and political transformation of the growing world.

China and its phenomenon growth and peaceful rise provide ample example that with consistent efforts and hard work, achieving prosperity is not a distant dream but can be a reality. These were the consensus amongst the scholars speaking during the seminar on “Five years of Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese Vision of Shared Destiny” organized by Centre for Belt and Road and CPEC Studies-Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies.

Farhat Asif, Founder President, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, speaking on the occasion the occasion said that Chinese model of shared destiny is rare and has all the essence to bring peace and prosperity in the region.

Dr. Muhammad Munir, Assistant Professor in National defense University said that BRI is open for states to join its project. Pakistan is main stakeholder in BRI which is dependent on the success of CPEC. Chinese concept is that investing on individual will prosper whole region. BRI will also benefit the common people. CPEC has made the trade most cost effective with its characteristic of trickledown effect.

While talking about Belt and Road Initiative Dr. Muhammad Khan, Head of Department in International Relations in International Islamic University said that Belt and Road has provided China access to market, Global economy and reach over Africa, Europe (the investment hub). BRI is Win-Win situation and states are finding benefit from this project. He was of the view that west instead of opposing and propagating should also get the benefit.

Ambassador ® Javed Hassan, Director, Chinese Studies Centre, National University of Science and Technology, while speaking on the Occasion highlighted at length about the wisdom and vision behind the BRI and how the Chinese nation has transformed them through hard worked. He has also discussed both Pakistan’s and Chinese perspective. He said that one may like it or not China has come a long way and this is a great moment of celebration that BRI has come so long way in just 5 years under all pressures and propaganda. China has achieved what took Europe 400 years. He has advised the Pakistani youth that they must learn the new emerging knowledge to foster forward the interest of Pakistan in the global world.

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CPEC to help addressing Pakistan’s long term economic constraints: Moody’s

Source: Business Recorder

Author: Shoaib Ur Rehman

Date: 14 December 2018.

ISLAMABAD: In its annual credit report released on Thursday, Moody’s has said that infrastructure and power projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will address Pakistan’s long-term economic constraints an strengthen its growth potential.

“Pakistan’s longer-term economic prospects remain robust, in part because of improvements in power supply, infrastructure and national security that have raised the country’s growth prospects and hence business confidence,” said the report Moody’s-a credit rating agency.

It said institutional reforms planned by the new government, if effectively implemented, would also bolster institutional strength, which has increased in recent years with greater central bank autonomy and monetary policy effectiveness.

“However, the reforms will be challenging for any government to navigate because of the country’s large bureaucracy and complex federal-provincial politics and administrative arrangements,” it added.

Neverthless, Moody’s said in short time, it expects the country’s real GDP growth to slow down to 4.3-4.7 percent in fiscal 2019 and 2020, from 5.8 percent in fiscal 2018, in part due to policy measures taken to address the external imbalance.

It said that the credit profile of Pakistan (B3 negative) reflects the country’s high external vulnerability, weak debt affordability, and very low global competitiveness.

“Significant external pressures driven by wider current-account deficits have reduced foreign-currency reserves, which are unlikely to be replenished in the near term unless capital inflows increase substantially,” the report stated.

“While Pakistan’s public external debt repayments are modest, low reserve adequacy threatens the ability of the government to finance the balance of payments deficit and roll over external debt at affordable costs.”

Moody’s said its assessment of Pakistan’s susceptibility to event risk is driven by external vulnerability risk. Current-account deficits will remain wider relative to 2013-16 levels, with near-term prospects for a marked and sustained reversal unlikely unless goods imports contract sharply, it pointed out.

“Absent significant capital inflows, the coverage of foreign-exchange reserves for goods and services imports will remain below two months, below the minimum adequacy level of three months recommended by the International Monetary Fund,” the report stated.

The government’s narrow revenue base restricts fiscal flexibility and weighs on debt affordability, while its debt burden has increased in recent years, it observed.

“At around 72 percent of GDP as of the end of fiscal 2018, the government’s debt stock is higher than the 58% median for B-rated sovereigns, and Moody’s expects the burden to rise further and peak at around 76pc of GDP in fiscal 2020 — in part because of currency depreciation — before gradually declining as the twin deficits gradually narrow.

The moderate but rising level of external government debt also exposes the country’s finances to sharp currency depreciation.