Less Tea, More Cash in Bank, Government Tells Pakistanis

Plea is greeted with skepticism that cutting back a cup will help economy
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2022 6:05 PM CDT
Less Tea, More Cash in Bank, Government Tells Pakistanis
A boy works at a tea shop Sunday in Peshawar, Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad, File)

(Newser) – A government plea to Pakistanis to drink less tea to help the nation out of its economic crisis has been met with skepticism. Pakistan is the largest importer of tea in the world, with a tab of more than $600 million last year, the BBC reports. The nation's foreign currency reserves are dropping quickly, so the government wants to reduce import spending and keep its money in Pakistan. "I appeal to the nation to cut down the consumption of tea by one to two cups because we import tea on loan," said Ahsan Iqbal, a senior minister. Typical consumption is at least three cups a day, per the Guardian.

Social media posts expressed doubt that a cup of tea could make enough of a difference, with some calling for the minister's resignation. "Yesterday Ahsan Iqbal asked us to consume less tea, and tomorrow they may say eat less," said the owner of a roadside tea stall on the edge of Islamabad. "Is it a solution?" Food prices in Pakistan are spiking after the government increased the prices of fuel, natural gas, and electricity by as much as 45%. Iqbal also suggested that traders shut their stalls in markets by 8:30pm to save electricity; power has been shut off for hours at a time across the country.

Restrictions have been placed on nonessential luxury items to protect the hard currency reserves in Pakistan's central bank. The government has taken steps to restart a stalled $6 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund, per CNN, including releasing a new $47 billion budget for 2022-23. The central bank reported that the rupee hit a record low Wednesday in trading against the US dollar—206. (Read more Pakistan stories.)

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