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April 12, 2019

WB assures Pakistan of continued assistance

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April 12, 2019

asadWASHINGTON: The World Bank President, David Malpass, has appreciated Pakistan's efforts for economic reforms and assured the country of its continued assistance. The assurance came during Finance Minister Asad Umar’s meeting with David Malpass, and the IMF top executives here.

Asad reached here on Tuesday evening with his three-member delegation to attend the annual Spring Meeting of the global financial institutions. The delegation comprises State Bank Governor Tariq Bajwa, Finance Secretary Younas Dagha and Economic Affairs Secretary Noor Ahmed, among others. Addressing a closed-door meeting with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers at a Virginia restaurant, Asad said delay in finalising a bailout package stemmed from the difference of opinion between the PTI government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the health of economy.

Asad reiterated that the IMF bailout package would be finalised very soon. He explained that the delay happened because the government and the IMF had a huge difference of understanding about the Pakistani economy.

"We had a different set of considerations to help boost the economy and what the people of Pakistan could afford," he told the audience. The finance minister said his ministry and the IMF had exchanged data and carried out an analysis but in the end the two sides "agreed to disagree" on the results and decided to wait out long enough to monitor how the economy reacts before entering a possible bailout package.

Asad Umar said a number of financial experts had suggested him and the prime minster to avail of a financial program sooner because "a delay could bear further harsh conditions." Asad said he had informed the prime minister that Pakistan was not just resisting to take up the aid package but simultaneously taking steps that were necessary for the economy.

He promised to revive the economy suggesting that no other country but Pakistan had committed 12 bailout programmes in just thirty years. He said the country had to reach yet another financial package with the International Monetary Fund but hoped it would be the last.

"Securing a bailout package for the economy is not a big deal, as old Pakistan has already done that many a time," he said, adding that the real test was that if we could take steps that ensure end to this practice once and for all and make the economy self-sustaining." The finance minister said the steps to strengthen the economy will eventually provide opportunities for everyone rather than for just a few. He also recounted the meetings he had along with his delegation with the IMF and World Bank officials on Wednesday.

On the sidelines he had meetings with the IMF Executive Director Christine Lagarde, first Deputy Managing Director David Lipton and Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang. Umar also met Hartwig Schafer, the Vice President for South Asia at World Bank, and was scheduled to participate in a talk with the assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary of the US Treasury.

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