Hafeez pledges to facilitate foreign investment, overcome economic challenges

WASHIGTON: Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Friday began his visit to Washington with an outreach to American businesses, reaffirming Islamabad’s resolve to facilitate foreign investment, overcome economic challenges and put the country on path to sustained development. The Minister, after addressing corporate memnbers of Business Council for International Understanding, said the government is committed to attracting investment in various sectors of the economy and at the same time taking a range of measures to put the economy on sound footing. “These (economic) challenges are our own. We have to deal with them. And we are trying to do the best,” he told APP.

Citing measures towards economic improvement, Dr Shaikh said Pakistan has put in place an “austerity program to cut government expenditures.” “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.”Dr Shaikh said the government will also pursue policies to bring “prosperity through pricing of agricultural products and sharing the benefits with rural community.”Pakistan, he said, is also focused on benefiting from global integration and access to markets. In this respect, he referred to the hopeful trends in export growth.The finance minister, who is leading a delegation of top economic managers to IMF-World Bank meetings, said he would also be meeting leaders of two financial institutions and discuss Pakistan’s relationship with them.During the visit, the finance minister is scheduled to have a meeting with IMF Mission Chief for Pakistan Adnan Mazaeri. Pakistan has received $ 8 billion out of $ 11.3 billion program it entered into with IMF a couple of years ago.

The meeting takes place ahead of the fifth review of the performance for release of last two remaining tranche of $ 3.3 billion.The finance minister will also hold bilateral dialogue with U.S. government on advancing economic ties and meet representatives belonging to the departments of State and Treasury, as well as USAID and White House officials.Dr Shaikh will also meet his counterparts from China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Afghanistan, Iran and U.K Minister of International Development.He is also scheduled at address members of Pakistan-US Business Council at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and highlight the vast investment opportunities the country holds out in a number of economic sectors.Dr Sheikh will also speak at an event at Woodrow Wilson Center on US-Pakistan economic relations. – APP