Pakistan has chance to boost economy: WB President


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has a great opportunity to become more ambitious in reforming its economy so that more people are lifted out of poverty more quickly and prosperity is more widely shared among its people, said World Bank Group (WBG) President Jim Yong Kim.

Noting that the government had stabilized the economy over three tough years, Kim said he had discussed in meetings with the prime minister and finance minister about the importance of pressing forward with reforms that would unlock the country’s potential. As part of the World Bank’s continued support to the country, there was discussion of a Development Policy Credit to promote economic reforms.

Now is the moment for Pakistan to step up to a higher level of growth and opportunity for all its people said Kim. In my meetings with the prime minister and finance minister, we discussed going to a higher level of ambition for reforms for the economy. These could include strengthening the role of the private sector for job creation, accelerating energy reforms, making improvements at the community level for health and education, and ensuring that anti-poverty measures are effective at reaching poor people. Kim made his comments on the first day of his two-day visit to Pakistan after meetings in Islamabad with the government leadership, including economic ministers and secretaries from provincial and federal governments.

Kim participated in a State Bank of Pakistan launch event for WBG support to Pakistan’s financial inclusion reform agenda, Pakistan’s Path towards Universal Financial Access. The National Financial Inclusion Strategy has come at a particularly opportune moment as new technology and the rapid expansion of branchless banking offer unprecedented opportunities to transform financial inclusion in Pakistan. Pakistan is now leading the way in South Asia when it comes to digital finance and branchless banking, said Kim.

The UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also participated in the event. Kim also participated in a panel discussion on Managing Displaced Populations and learnt how the country managed a large Afghan refugee population. The event was co-organized by the World Bank, the Economic Affairs Division and UNHCR, in the context of the continuing global refugee crisis.

There is much the world can learn from Pakistan, which has for decades hosted refugees from other countries or had to cope with temporarily displaced people within its own borders said Kim. We are committed to support the Government of Pakistan in repatriating the crisis affected displaced people through the newly effective cash transfer project.

Later in the day, he met with the provincial leadership of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and learned about province-level reform efforts and development projects under implementation and preparation with World Bank Group support. He underlined the importance of the role of the provincial governments in the effective implementation of reforms.

Kim later plans to meet private sector representatives, students, and the provincial leadership of Sindh. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by its Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) agreed with the government. The World Bank Pakistan portfolio has 26 investment lending projects under implementation with a total net commitment of $4.99 billion. To date, we have committed over $5.6 billion in Pakistan, including $1.2 billion during the 2015 fiscal year. IFC’s advisory services program in Pakistan is one of its largest in the region, with 13 active projects and a funding commitment of over $20 million