Pakistani university comes up with new idea to boost employment and reduce tea imports, by promoting local beverages

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This comes on the heels of a Pakistani minister proposing that people should drink less tea on June 17 as the country is believed to have consumed tea worth 83.88 billion rupees in the financial year 2021-22.

Pakistan is the largest tea importer in the world. AFP

Lahore: A leading educational body in Pakistan has come up with an innovative idea to boost employment and reduce the expense of importing tea to the cash-strapped country: promoting the consumption of local beverages such as lassi and sattu.

The Acting Chairman of the Higher Education Commission, Dr Shaista Sohail, in a circular addressed to the vice-chancellors of public sector universities, asked them to play a leading role and think of innovative ways to relieve low-income groups and the economy as a whole. , reported Geo TV on June 24.

In the circular, Sohail suggested promoting local tea plantations and traditional drinks like lassi and sattu, which will increase employment and also generate income from making these drinks for the public. Tea import expenses would reduce our import bill.

Pakistan is grappling with a growing current account deficit and depleted foreign exchange reserves, which fell to $8.2 billion on June 17, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal, urged citizens to reduce their tea consumption to help reduce the import bill that is eating away at the country’s foreign exchange reserves. .

Iqbal’s call came after it emerged that Pakistan had consumed tea worth $400 million in the 2021-22 financial year, according to International news newspaper.

The minister said Pakistan, one of the biggest tea importers in the world, had to borrow money to import it.

“I call on the nation to reduce tea consumption by 1-2 cups as we import tea on loan,” Iqbal said.

The federal budget document for the outgoing fiscal year showed that Pakistan imported $60 million more in tea than last fiscal year. Iqbal’s suggestion had drawn criticism.

But Sohail hopes his idea will go a long way in easing Pakistan’s economic woes.

“I am sure that the honorable vice-chancellors will be able to explore many other avenues in innovative ways to create jobs, reduce imports and ease the economic situation,” she added.

On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a 10% super tax on major industries like cement, steel and automobiles, a move he said was aimed at tackling spiraling inflation and to prevent the cash-strapped country from going “bankrupt”.

Wealthy people will also be subject to a “poverty alleviation tax”, the prime minister said in his address to the nation.

After numerous meetings and setbacks, the Pakistani government and the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday reached a broader agreement to reinstate a $6 billion package, giving a much-needed boost to Pakistan’s economy.

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