Yokohama: Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar who is in Yokohama, Japan to attend the 50th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank had a number of meetings on Thursday.
He met with the President of Asian Development Bank (ADB). During the interaction, Finance Minister briefed him about the economic performance and achievements of Pakistan and government’s policies to enhance growth while reducing budgetary deficit.
The Finance Minister highlighted that due to effective steps taken by the government, the GDP Growth rate was at an eight years high in FY 2016 i.e at 4.7% whereas the fiscal deficit had been reduced by more than half i.e. from 8.8% to 4.6%.
The Finance Minister highlighted that these achievements in economic growth had been achieved despite Pakistan waging war against terrorism which had cost more than $3billion for security operations in last three years alone. He also said that Pakistan has setup the Pakistan Development Fund for the development of critical infrastructure and hoped that ADB would strengthen its support for such an important initiative.
President of ADB lauded Pakistan’s efforts and stated that there was wide spread recognition of Government’s success in turning the economy around. He said that improvement in economic fundamentals greatly assures the international investors and donors alike and now it is expected that more foreign direct investment will flow towards Pakistan.
Finance Minister later met with the President of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The AIIB President stated that Pakistan’s economic growth rate is appreciable and its positive impact is well spread amongst all segments of the society.
During the interaction the Finance Minister thanked the President for grant of first two projects of AIIB to Pakistan and briefed him that the Government has substantially strengthened the social security net in last three years from Rs.43 Billion to Rs.117 Bn.
He also stated that poverty has substantially reduced from around 64% in 2000 to 29% in 2016. The Minister informed that Pakistan Investment Bank is being created with IFC in the lead to cater to the needs of the private sector infrastructure projects. The President of AIIB assured bank’s support to the Finance Minister.
Finance Minister afterwards had a meeting with the President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Finance Minister informed the JICA President that after achieving macro-economic stability the Government has set its sight on achieving sustainable, inclusive and higher growth. Commenting on CPEC initiative, the Finance Minister explained that CEPC is not just a bilateral project rather it is an initiative leading towards regional connectivity and development, therefore, all interested are welcome to come and take advantage of the opportunities and invest.
He reiterated that CPEC offered a major share for investment to the private sector to the tune of $34billion hence the misconception regarding debt sustainability of Pakistan vis-a-vis CEPEC funding was unfounded. President JICA thanked the Finance Minister and assured that JICA will maintain and enhance its engagement in Pakistan especially for human resource development.
Speaking as a panelist at a seminar chaired by President of ADB on the launch of Book to celebrate 50 years of ADB, the Finance Minister praised the role of ADB in supporting growth and progress in Asia. He highlighted the evolution and changing role of ADB especially as it had been flexible in adopting challenges and corresponding response. The Minister remarked that next decade and millennium belong to Asia. Commenting on the role of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank the Minister said that AIIB is a welcome new entry in the arena of development, complementing the work of other MDBs and fill in the funding gap for infrastructure development.