WASHINGTON: Painting a rosy picture of Pakistan’s economy – “exports have risen by 30%” – Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh, at the tail end of his official visit to the US capital, said Pakistan felt it did not need to take a loan, and would continue on its path of homegrown economic reforms despite the end of the IMF loan programme.
Pakistan has shown good economic performance, Sheikh said while addressing a press conference at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. However, Value Added Tax (VAT) was not imposed because parliament opposed it, and the fiscal deficit target was not met due to the floods and the rise in oil prices. “Our thinking was why should we take further loans? Our economic situation, especially our balance of payments, was such that we can run our country in a good way.”
The IMF programme will end on September 30 this year. Additionally, a team from the IMF will visit Pakistan in November.
The finance minister told Pakistani journalists at the press conference that he had met with Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides and USAID Director Raj Shah, where he had discussed economic cooperation. He added that there had been some progress on creating an enterprise fund so that US companies could invest in Pakistan. Sheikh said he desired increased market access and decreasing tariff rates in the global market for Pakistani products, adding that British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been very cooperative in this regard for access to the European Union’s markets.
In response to a question on US assistance to Pakistan, Sheikh said Pakistan had received $1 billion last year from the United States, of which half was from the Kerry Lugar Berman bill funds.
While discussing his meetings with World Bank officials, Sheikh said the bank had agreed to give $300 million over the next three years to the Higher Education Commission. Additionally, the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank group, had decided to invest $150 million in small to medium enterprises in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2011.
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