People watch screens showing a speech by Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) (Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg)

Imran Khan Asks Overseas Pakistanis to Invest, Raise Remittances

(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan asked overseas citizens to invest and increase remittances to the South Asian country to help boost its foreign-exchange reserves and overcome an economic crisis.

“We want you to send your money and deposit it in Pakistani banks,” the 65-year-old former cricket star said in a televised speech on Sunday. “I feel ashamed begging for loans and funds from foreign institutions.”

Imran Khan Asks Overseas Pakistanis to Invest, Raise Remittances

Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party formed a coalition majority government following victory in last month’s elections, is facing multiple economic and foreign policy challenges. The central bank has devalued the currency four times since December and hiked interest rates amid rising deficits and depleting foreign reserves. On Saturday, Khan named Asad Umar, a former head of Pakistani conglomerate Engro Corp., as his finance minister. Umar said in an interview this month that Pakistan may need more than $12 billion to plug a gap in the country’s finances.

Overseas Pakistanis remitted about $20 billion last financial year ended June, though investors and analysts expect most or part of the nation’s financing will come from an International Monetary Fund bailout. With Pakistan a key country along its Belt and Road trade route, China has also been providing the South Asian nation with billions of dollars in stop-gap loans this year. Khan didn’t say whether he will seek a financial bailout.

Desperate Needs

“We will see how we can raise funds -- I will reform the national tax collection agency,” Khan said. “We are facing a shortage of dollars. Our deficits, trade gap have increased so much that we desperately want dollars.”

Khan, who has pledged to cut government expenses and fix the state-owned companies, named former central bank Governor Ishrat Husain as an adviser on institutional reforms and austerity in his 20-member cabinet. Husain is currently the head of Karachi’s Institute of Business Administration and worked headed the State Bank of Pakistan from 1999 to 2005.

Khan’s challenges are expected to mount as the opposition parties led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz clamor for a probe into allegations of election rigging and have threatened to take to the streets if their demands aren’t met.

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