Pakistanis have been urged to drink less tea to keep the country's economy afloat, as the world's largest tea importer grapples with soaring inflation and a fast-depreciating rupee, media reports said.
The South Asian nation of 220 million is the world's largest importer of tea, buying more than $640 million worth in 2020, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, CNN reported.
The country's Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, on Tuesday told reporters that Pakistanis could reduce their tea consumption by "one or two cups" per day as imports are putting additional financial strain on the government exchequer.
"The tea we import is imported by taking loan," Iqbal said, adding that businesses should also close earlier to save electricity.
Pakistan has been facing severe economic challenges for months, leading to an increase in the prices of food, gas and oil. Meanwhile, its foreign currency reserves are declining rapidly.
Many in Pakistan took to social media to ridicule Iqbal's plea, saying cutting tea consumption would do little to ease the country's economic woes.
Last month, Pakistan had banned the import of non-essential and luxury items to "control spiralling inflation, stabilise foreign exchange reserves, strengthen the economy, and reduce the country's reliance on imports", Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had told a news conference on May 19.