Pakistanis urged to drink less tea to help the economy

Pakistanis have been urged to drink less tea to help the country’s struggling economy.

The planning minister asked chai drinkers to cut down on their consumption because import costs were draining the country’s foreign currency reserves.

“I appeal to the nation to cut down the consumption of tea by one to two cups because we import tea on loan,” Ahsan Iqbal said.

The South Asian nation of 220 million people is the world’s biggest importer of tea.

Mr Iqbal said sellers at markets have also been asked to shut up shop by 8.30pm to conserve energy.

He said this will help the country cut the import bill of petroleum products.

Pakistan has faced economic challenges for months, leading to a rise in the price of food, oil and gas.

The issues were at the centre of the political showdown between Imran Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in April, and Shahbaz Sharif, his successor who led the bid by the opposition to remove Mr Khan.

Mr Khan has led protests across the country against the new leadership since his removal.

The country’s foreign currency reserves have also fallen rapidly, plummeting from $16.3bn at the end of February to $10bn in May, according to Reuters.

The $6bn lost would have been enough to cover two months of imports.

Many in Pakistan ridiculed Mr Iqbal’s plea on social media, saying drinking less tea would do little to ease the country’s economic crisis.

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