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Peace in Afghanistan Vital for Regional Economic Stability: Finance Minister

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Mr. Shaukat Tarin held a virtual meeting with Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP), at the Finance Division on Thursday.

The Finance Minister briefed the Executive Secretary UNESCAP on the macro-economic challenges faced by Pakistan and underlined the economic and fiscal policies being undertaken to place the economy on a growth trajectory.

Tarin informed the Executive Secretary that the Government of Pakistan had to opt for the IMF [International Monetary Fund] program to fix the balance of payments crisis caused by the precarious economic situation in FY 2017-18. He said the COVID-19 pandemic shock, unfortunately, resulted in considerable economic contractions, which led to a loss of livelihoods, disruption in supply lines, and limited economic activity during partial lockdowns.

At present, he briefed, Pakistan is left with a difficult choice to strike a balance between the need for fiscal consolidation and the ever-rising demand for economic stimulus to revive economic growth amid COVID-19 and in a post-COVID scenario. Nevertheless, he maintained, the government introduced smart and targeted lockdowns across various cities and districts to curtail the spread of the virus. This strategy was lauded globally for striking a balance between lives and livelihoods during the testing times, he added.

The Minister stated that the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan posed new economic challenges for Pakistan. “Peace and stability in Afghanistan are important for the whole region,” he stressed.

The Finance Minister underlined that due to prudent fiscal policies and strict financial discipline, Pakistan’s economy was shifting from consolidation to growth phase. “The government’s objective is to steer the economy toward an inclusive and sustainable economic growth with [its] key focus on bottom-up approach as envisaged by the Prime Minister. Kamyab Pakistan Program is being introduced to uplift the underprivileged population by extending micro-credit to promote financial empowerment,” he explained.

In her remarks, the Executive Secretary UNESCAP emphasized the significance of supporting the countries which are facing financing and development constraints due to the ongoing pandemic. She stressed the need for evolving a mechanism to provide maximum relief to the developing countries facing socio-economic challenges. She stated that the upcoming UNESCAP Committee on Macroeconomic Policy Committee meeting will propose establishing a consultative group on financing for development for SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals].

She extended an invite to the Finance Minister for delivering a keynote address at the Committee meeting, which the Minister accepted to deliver a keynote address in virtual mode.

The three-day Committee meeting will deliberate on the macroeconomic policies of UNESCAP member countries and other issues relating to financing for development.

Source: Pro Pakistani

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