ISLAMABAD: Managing Director International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde has reiterated full support to Pakistan in its endeavors to address economic challenges and realize its superb potential.
She was addressing a news conference along with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Christine Lagarde felicitated Pakistan on having successfully completed IMF supported economic reforms package. She said the program helped the country achieve macroeconomic stability and provided a solid foundation to the country to go for further reforms in important sectors. She pointed out that as a result of better economic performance; the country has significantly improved social protection spending. She also expressed satisfaction over the gradual reduction in the power outages and better financial discipline of the power sector.
She said Pakistan has achieved a lot over the last few years but much more also needs to be done in the next phase to address the remaining challenges in order to ensure higher standards of living for their people. She said the requisite reforms process will help the country effectively meet challenges on the economic front.
Christine Lagarde said structured reforms are required in different sectors including power besides there is need to plug losses in public enterprises. In parallel, special focus should also be laid on health and education sectors. She was of the view that any future reforms should focus primarily on inclusive and sustainable growth as it is imperative to bringing improvements in the living standards of the people.
Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar said besides consolidating gains of the last three years, the Government would focus for next two years on growth, creation of job opportunities, poverty reduction and creating space for social sector spending.
He said this has been reflected in the current year's budget, which is aimed at broadening tax net and improving financial disciple.
The Minister said development spending has been increased from 300 billion rupees three years back to 800 billion rupees this year, social safety net expenses taken from 40 to 117 billion rupees and budgetary support for higher education has been increased substantially.
Ishaq Dar expressed pleasure that for the first time the country completed an IMF programme and embarked upon comprehensive economic and financial reforms.
He said when the present Government assumed power; it pledged to focus on addressing the four challenges of economic instability, energy shortages, low spending on social sector and extremism. He said the country has made good progress on all these fronts.
The Finance Minister said the battle against terrorism has entered into its last round and incidents like the one in Quetta are blow back.