Despite challenges, Pakistan committed to economic reforms: PM

ISLAMABAD, Sep 8 (APP)- Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Wednesday said Pakistan is facing the biggest human and economic crisis in history because of devastating floods and it is beyond of any single country’s capacity to meet a challenge of such magnitude. Pakistan, he mentioned, is simultaneously fighting war against terrorism as a frontline state in the interest of international peace and prosperity. Despite enormous challenges, Pakistan is committed to economic reforms, improved governance and democracy, the Prime Minister said while talking to Ms. Isable Guerrero, Vice President of World Bank who called on him here at the PM House on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the presence of Ms.  Isable Guerrero, Vice President of the World Bank shows the concern and solidarity of the major international financial institution.
He thanked the World Bank for provision of US $ 1 billion funding for flood related early recovery and reconstruction projects as well as for financing flood related imports.
The Prime Minister hoped that the World Bank would favourably consider easing the conditionalities on the economic support being extended.
He further expressed confidence that keeping in view the colossal losses at the hands of ravaging floods, the world community and financial institutions would consider provision of additional resources for relief and reconstruction activities.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan on its own has taken a number of steps to raise its own resources to meet the needs of the flood affected population.
These measures, he added, included reprioritizing the budget, freezing expenditure on last year level, diverting some of the development funds, increasing tax base and austerity in all the government departments.
As regards disbursement and utilization of assistance being pledged by the international community, the Prime Minister mentioned that the matter was thoroughly discussed in the Council of Common Interests (CCI), the highest body at the national level with representation of all the provinces.
He saud a National Oversight Disaster Management Council has been formed which would have credible names to ensure transparency and just distribution of assistance both in kind and cash.
Beside all the details and information would be available on the website, he added.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan has strong economic and financial institutions to manage the funds including the Auditor General of Pakistan’s office to conduct the audit of expenditures.
It would facilitate, if the funds being committed by international financial institutions are channelized through the government of Pakistan’s existing systems, which includes the Public Accounts Committee headed by the Leader of the Opposition, he added.
The Prime Minister urged upon the World Bank to play a lead role in sensitizing the international donors to the difficulties being faced by the flood affectees in Pakistan.
He expressed apprehension that delay in the rehabilitation of flood affectees could impact socio-economic and political environment thus restricting Pakistan’s efforts to curb the menace of terrorism. He suggested that the World Bank could make a global appeal to mobilize the financial support for Pakistan.
Ms. Isable Guerrero, Vice President of the World Bank apprised the Prime Minister that the entire Board of the World Bank consisting of 185 members were greatly concerned with the situation arising out of drastic floods and all of them were considerate towards helping Pakistan in this time of need.
The World Bank, she mentioned, is providing US $ 1 billion for the flood related activities and expressed optimism for increase in assistance and financial support after consultation with the members.
Ms. Isable Guerrero specifically referred to the forthcoming Conferences, as UN General Assembly Session on Floods in Pakistan on 19th September in New York, Asia-Europe Summit on 4rd October in Brussels, FODP Ministerial level meeting in October and Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad in November, as important platforms for mobilizing requisite economic support for Pakistan.
She expressed the confidence that Pakistan would be able to utilize these opportunities aptly through highest level representation.
Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue and other senior officials were also present in the meeting – APP