ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari urging International Monetary Fund (IMF) to continue its economic support for Pakistan said the country was pursuing economic reform agenda despite constraints. He was talking to Masood Ahmed, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department IMF at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.The President said the government was making efforts to evolve a consensus on the proposed tax reforms and other issues relating to the economy.However, being the democratic government it has to reduce to the difficulties that the people were facing due to economic constraints.He said the government was taking all the political forces and other stakeholders on board on all economic measures that had to be taken under the prevailing economic scenario.He said the democratic dispensation had taken a number of measures to streamline and stabilize the economy that include giving more autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan, regulating government borrowings, necessary amendments in Banking Companies Ordinance 1962.The President said that due to war against terror and the worst-ever floods in the history, the country’s economy had to suffer major blows and it needed international assistance to create economic opportunities for the people.He said the government was cognizant of the need of reforms in various areas including public sector enterprises and power sector and was taking appropriate steps in this regard.He said the government was moving aggressively to cut costs on the expenditure side and curtailing its non-salary current expenditures.He said on the PSDP, the government had also taken bold steps to rationalize its size and the projects portfolio. The government had also undertaken rigorous review of all expenditures to identify further reductions in expenses.To cut down the expenditure, the President said the Sindh government had slashed the size of the Cabinet and the services of over a dozen advisors.
He said the federal government had also decided to similarly enforce austerity measures. The reform agenda, the President hoped, though initially creating difficulties and hardship for the ordinary citizens would help to provide much needed support to our economy.The President also noted that the government was pursuing a policy of elimination of general subsidies and replaced the same with targeted subsidies for the poor and vulnerable communities alone.The President said the government was making all efforts to ensure transparent economy in order to reduce corruption and to address the issue of tax evasion. The President also highlighted various tax reforms measure taken by the Government that he remarked as were the gateway to systemic reform and transparency.Masood Ahmed thanked the President for meeting the delegation. He emphasized the need for stabilizing economy and appreciated that the Government and its economic managers were conscious of this and had already taken some measures for stabilizing economy.Masood Ahmed was accompanied by IMF officials Adnan Mazaeri and Paul Roass.Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Finance Minister, Salman Faruqui, Secretary General to the President, Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haq Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Shahid H. Kardar, Governor State Bank, Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of State for Economic Affairs and other senior officials represented the Pakistan side – APP