Pakistan will continue to pursue reforms: Hafeez Shaikh

Islamabad: Pakistan will continue to pursue reforms in key areas of the economy under a homegrown program in order to achieve overall improvement and sustainable economic growth, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said.“We will continue on the reform path, we will continue with restraint (in) fiscal policy and expenditures, we will continue with mobilization of taxes,” Shaikh said. The finance minister, who had meetings with senior IMF and World Bank leaders on Sunday, told APP that Islamabad is also serious about reforming its power sector.

The finance minister discussed cooperation with Ms Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Pakistan’s $ 11.3 billion program with Fund would conclude on September 30, officials confirmed. “However, cooperation (between the Fund and Pakistan) will continue,” Dr. Shaikh said, citing an upcoming Article IV mission meeting in Pakistan.

The finance minister said the IMF leader appreciated the positive results coming out in the first two months of the current fiscal year. It was proposed that the Fund provide technical assistance on matters of interest to Pakistan. Officials said it was decided that a conference be organized jointly in November to think about future reforms direction.

Explaining the importance of Islamabad’s commitment to reforms, Shaikh said, “the reform program that Pakistan will develop will be homegrown but it will continue to focus on the areas that have been part of the Fund’s arrangement.”

In this respect, he referred to reforms including domestic tax mobilization, which includes self-sufficiency and allowing greater space for the private sector so that they are more competitive. He also referred to reforms to counter inflation and noted that the sensitive price indicator has climbed down to nine percent, “which is good news” The finance minister, meanwhile, also led his team of economic managers at a meeting with Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director of the World Bank, and discussed economic development cooperation.

They discussed availability of IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) financing for infrastructure projects in various sectors including water and energy. The World Bank agreed to look for providing IBRD financing that will help Pakistan in completion of Tarbela IV project that will add 1300 MW power generation capacity. Officials said, the World Bank leader expressed the financial institution’s support for Pakistan’s development. Earlier, the finance minister discussed trade and economic cooperation with his Iranian counterpart Shamseddin Hosseini including greater trade access for Pakistani products in the Iranian market. The two finance leaders looked at collaboration in the financial sector, transit arrangements and investment prospects.

Finance Minister Shaikh was accompanied at the meetings by his team of top economic managers to the IMF-World meetings that included Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan, Acting Governor State Bank Anwar Yasin, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Nadeem ul Haq, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Salman Siddique, Secretary Economic Affairs Abdul Wajid Rana and Minister Economic at the embassy Zahid Hafeez.

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