ISLAMABAD – Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Thursday said that the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan has created new economic challenges for Pakistan.
Peace and stability in Afghanistan is important for the whole region, he stressed in a virtual meeting with Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) at the Finance Division.
In his remarks, the finance minister briefed the Executive Secretary, UNESCAP about the macro-economic challenges faced by Pakistan and underlined economic and fiscal policies being undertaken to place the economy on growth trajectory. He apprised that government of Pakistan had to opt for IMF program to fix balance of payments crisis due to precarious economic situation in FY-2018. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic shock resulted in considerable economic contraction leading to loss of livelihoods, disruption in supply lines and limited economic activity during partial lockdowns. At present, Pakistan is faced with a difficult choice to strike a balance between need for fiscal consolidation and ever rising demand for economic stimulus to stimulate economic growth amid COVID-19 and in post COVID scenario. Nevertheless, the government introduced smart and targeted lockdowns across various cities/districts to curtail spread of virus. This strategy was lauded globally for striking a balance between lives and livelihoods, during testing times, he added.
The finance minister underlined that due to prudent fiscal policies and strict financial discipline, Pakistan’s economy is shifting from consolidation to growth phase. The government’s objective is to steer economy towards an inclusive and sustainable economic growth with key focus on bottom-up approach as envisaged by the Prime Minister. A Kamyab Pakistan Program is being introduced to uplift underprivileged population by extending micro-credit to promote financial empowerment.
In her remarks, the executive secretary extended an invite to the finance minister for delivering keynote address at the upcoming meeting of UNESCAP’s Committee on Macroeconomic Policy. The 3-day Committee meeting will deliberate upon the macroeconomic policies of member countries as well as issues relating to financing for development. She emphasized the significance of supporting countries which are facing financing and development constraints due to on-going pandemic. She stressed upon the need for evolving a mechanism to provide maximum relief to the developing countries which are facing socio-economic challenges. She stated that this Committee meeting will propose establishment of consultative group on financing for development for SDGs. Finance Minister accepted the invitation to deliver keynote address in virtual mode.