Pakistan’s government is cognisant of the many challenges facing the nation’s economy and are taking corrective measures, said Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh who arrived in Washington on Friday to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Citing measures towards economic improvement, Sheikh said Pakistan has put in place an “austerity program to cut government expenditures.” He appeared keen to point out that the government was taking ownership of the country’s problems and not looking for an endless bailout from Washington.
“Our economic challenges are our own. We have to deal with them. And we are trying to do the best,” said the minister. “We are trying to mobilize domestic revenues. We are trying to open up our economy and deregulate it, assign a greater role to the private sector.”
The finance minister is leading a delegation to meet with IMF officials to discuss the status of the $11.3 billion suspended loan programme that Islamabad had asked for in the aftermath of a severe financial crisis in November 2008.
Pakistan has thus far received $8 billion of the loan. The disbursements of the rest have been suspended due to the government’s unwillingness to undertake politically unpopular reforms such as ending all subsidies and deregulating the energy sector.
The finance minister will also hold bilateral dialogue with the United States on advancing economic ties. He is scheduled to meet representatives from the US Treasury, the United States Agency for International Development and the White House.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2011.