Frankfurt—Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Wednesday said Pakistan intended to expand its trade and investment links with the region in the East, West and Central Asia. Addressing the first business session of Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting here, Dar said the regional cooperation and integration was one of key pillars of ADB’s Strategy 2020. Regional connectivity, he said was also one of the seven key elements of Pakistan’s Vision 2025. In line with the above objective, it is a great pleasure for the Government of Pakistan to be the host for holding the Ministerial Conference of CAREC this year, he added. “I feel privileged to take part in this momentous event and to renew my country’s commitment in the realization of ADB’s vision of an Asia-Pacific region that is poverty-free”, Ishaq Dar added.
Developing Asia, he said was projected to grow at 5.7 per cent in both 2016 and 2017 down moderately from 2.9 per cent registered in 2015. “While the projection is good, this does not allow us to be complacent as there are internal and external challenges in the shape of global headwinds and moderating growth in China”, the minister added. Highlighting Pakistan’s significant achievements during last two and half years, the minister said Pakistan’s economy had continued to demonstrate resilience to cope with security challenges, continuing war against terrorism and the lingering impact of consistent floods resulting from climate change.
Dar said the economy had revived due to a comprehensive reform agenda including structural reforms especially in the field of energy sector. He said the Government had focused on bringing improvement in the real sectors of growth through improvement in agriculture, industrial and service sectors. To make economic progress more inclusive, Ishaq Dar said Pakistan was implementing a successful social protection system based on cash transfers in the form of Benazir Income Support Programme, the largest of such programmes in the region.
Prime Minister’s National Health Insurance Programme has been launched in compliance with the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to the principle of universal health coverage and to improve access of the socially disadvantaged population to medical services, he added. He informed that on the basis of progress and achievements that have been mentioned above, various international think tanks and research groups have recognized Pakistan’s impressive turnaround. “Moody’s raised our economic outlook from negative to stable. Japan’s JETRO has declared Pakistan as likely to be the second choicest place for foreign direct investment,” he added. He said ADB had been a long and trusted development partner for Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan highly appreciated the role of ADB in formulation of Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the year 2015-19 that would focus on infrastructure development to help attract private investment, improve connectivity, boost productivity, create jobs and provide access to markets and basic public services.