Cash-strapped Pakistan has advised its citizens to restrict their use of tea in order to assist lower the import cost, which is eroding the country’s decreasing foreign exchange reserves.
The Federal Minister for Planning, Ahsan Iqbal, made the call after it was revealed that Pakistan consumed tea worth Rs 83.88 billion ($400 million) in fiscal year 2021-22, according to The News International daily.
He said that Pakistan, one of the world’s largest tea importers, must borrow money to do so.
“I ask to the country to reduce tea consumption by 1-2 cups since we import tea on loan,” Mr. Iqbal remarked to reporters on Tuesday in Islamabad.
According to the government budget paper for the current fiscal year, Pakistan imported Rs 13 billion ($60 million) more tea than the previous fiscal year.
According to the News Network International news agency, Pakistani Rs 70.82 billion ($340 million) was spent on tea imports in fiscal year 2020-21.
Mr. Iqbal’s call to reduce tea consumption by one to two cups did not go over well with the public, who began criticizing him on Twitter.
“Did Ahsan Iqbal actually request that the nation cut back on chai?” Did he truly request that from us? “Do they really believe we’re that stupid?” said one Twitter user.
“Ahsan Iqbal pushing the country to cut back on tea, I’m sorry but I can’t be a part of this,” another user called Zoha tweeted.
The Planning Minister also stated that the trading community has been requested to close markets by 8.30 p.m. PST in order to preserve electricity.
Mr. Iqbal stated that this will assist the government in lowering its import bill for petroleum items.
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has cautioned that if difficult decisions are not taken, Pakistan’s economy will be in a similar.