Islamabad: China has assured Pakistan of a rollover of over USD 2 billion at a much-reduced rate amid Islamabad's ongoing economic hardship due to high inflation and a sharp rise in the import bill.

Beijing is doing so at a reduced interest rate, which is lower than even the loan that China has given to other countries, The News International newspaper reported citing a diplomatic communication received by the Pakistan Foreign Office last Friday.

The Pakistani government is also told that the Chinese government plans to enhance their economic and strategic ties with Pakistan, the report added.

The Pakistani daily said the Chinese leadership has assured Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that they will not merely continue to stand with the people of Pakistan but will do so more proactively and with greater resolve with the incumbent premier.

According to The News, the Chinese leadership is more comfortable working with Shehbaz Sharif because of their past experience when Shehbaz was the chief minister of Punjab province.

This report of rollover comes as the incumbent government and the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government are playing the blame game for the economic mess in the country.

Two days after the budget was formally presented in the National Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PTI continued to butt heads over each other's economic performance and the state of Pakistan's external debt, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The total public debt of Pakistan was PKR 44,366 billion at the end of March 2022, and had increased by PKR 4,500 billion over the first nine months of the outgoing fiscal year, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2021-22.

Pakistan Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Saturday said the country is going through a "very difficult" phase. He made the remark a day after he presented the federal budget for 2022-23 in the National Assembly.

Addressing a press conference, the minister cautioned that Pakistan was going through an unprecedented period, which he described as "very difficult".

"I have never seen a more difficult time in the past 30 years where on the one hand the international environment is very challenging and the government or administration has worsened and nothing was done to resolve issues," Dawn quoted the Pakistan finance minister as saying.

He said that Pakistan is producing electricity at costly rates because of poor administration. Ismail said he was "not being alarmist", but the country's economy "cannot bear it".

The Pakistani finance emphasised the need to "fix things", adding that "We can't afford expenditure for which we don't have the capacity."

"It is unfortunate that we have to approach other countries for packages, loans or deposits," he lamented. "Pakistan is an honourable country and a nuclear power. We have to set our economy right."

On Friday, Ismail presented the budget of 9.5 trillion rupees for the upcoming fiscal year starting from July 2022 to June 2023 at the lower house of the country's parliament.