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Operation Zarb-e-Azb will cost $1.75 billion: Ishaq Dar

20 April, 2015

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WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb will cost $1.75 billion. In a media briefing in Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington, he said that Pakistan required $800 million for repatriation of the Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs).

The finance minister said that the government intended to privatise 35 entities and it would pay back loan through the privatisation of Habib Bank Limited (HBL). He said that the shares of distribution companies would be sold in the next phase. He said that remittances are likely to increase by 15 percent this year.

Meanwhile, in his meeting with IMF Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Dar reiterated the government’s commitment to continuing reform agenda to put the economy on a sound footing. He said the 6th IMF review had been completed without a waiver after Pakistan’s fulfilment of the performance criteria. He especially mentioned the build-up of foreign exchange reserves, decline in inflation and discount rate, and reduction in fiscal and current account deficits. The IMF deputy managing director congratulated him on the successful 6th review of the IMF programme. He expressed the hope that Pakistan would continue its economic policies and reform agenda.

In his meeting with Annette Dixon, the Vice President of World Bank’s South Asian Region, the finance minister said that the government had successfully undertaken tax reforms resulting into an increase of 20 percent in revenue collection.

Dar briefed her about the healthy trends in Pakistan’s economy as a result of the government’s policies. He said that the revenue collection had witnessed 16.4 percent growth rate during the last fiscal year, and the government was expecting 20 percent growth this year despite all challenges.

Dixon appreciated the performance of Pakistan’s economy during the last two years. She said that the World Bank was preparing a plan to support the energy sector and economic growth in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in his meeting in Washington with Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli, the finance minister briefed her about the performance of Pakistan’s economy during the last 22 months. A statement issued by the Ministry of Finance here on Sunday said that the finance minister apprised the under secretary about the build-up of foreign exchange reserves, decline in inflation and discount rate, and soaring remittances.

Novelli appreciated the marked improvement in macro-economic indicators and observed that there was a remarkable turnaround in Pakistan’s economy in a short period of time. She said that the US side was proposing Pakistan to join “Clean US Pakistan Energy Challenge” under which the US will especially support renewable energy projects. She also offered the US help in establishing a broadband technology under private sector which will support health initiatives. In the end, she observed that the expansion of regional trade would boost economic growth in the entire region and was therefore a win-win situation for all the countries.

During the meeting, Dar informed Novelli about the recent developments on trade with Afghanistan. He said that many issues involving Pakistan-Afghan trade had been resolved and the two countries had agreed to double the trade in next few years. Regarding trade with India, he observed that both sides needed to restart composite dialogue which should include all issues including the trade and Kashmir.

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