Following is the statement by Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at First Business Session of ADB Annual Meeting:
“Mr. Chairman, honorable members of the Board of Governors, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, I would like to thank the Chair, the Government and people of Germany for their warm reception and hospitality in hosting this Annual Meeting.
I would also like to extend my deep appreciation to President Nakao and his Management team and staff for making this event possible. I feel privileged to take part in this momentous event and to renew my country’s commitment in the realization of ADB’s vision of an Asia-Pacific region that is poverty-free.
We meet at a time of much more challenging global environment then previous years. However, developing countries in Asia have shown a consummate resilience than the rest of the world. Developing Asia is projected to grow at 5.7% in both 2016 and 2017 down moderately from 2.9% registered in 2015. While the projection is good, this does not allow us to be complacent as there are internal and external challenges in the shape of global headwinds and moderating growth in China.
Pakistan’s economy has continued to demonstrate resilience to cope with security challenges, continuing war against terrorism and the lingering impact of consistent floods resulting from climate change. The present Government of Pakistan embarked on a journey of development to tackle these challenges head-on and within less than three years of assumption of power, this government has achieved impressive results. Economy has revived due to a comprehensive reform agenda including structural reforms especially in the field of energy sector. The Government has focused on bringing improvement in the real sectors of growth through improvement in agriculture, industrial and service sectors.
These signs of progress are the source of our confidence that Pakistan would soon move to a path of higher sustained growth leading to poverty reduction and improvement in other socio-economic indices.
To make economic progress more inclusive, Pakistan is implementing a successful social protection system based on cash transfers in the form of Benazir Income Support Program, the largest of such programs in the region. Prime Minister’s National Health Insurance Program has been launched in compliance with the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to the principal of universal health coverage and to improve access of the socially disadvantaged population to medical services.
Allow me to highlight that on the basis of progress and achievements that have been mentioned above, various international think tanks and research groups have recognized Pakistan’s impressive turnaround. Moody’s raised our economic outlook from negative to stable. Japan’s JETRO has declared Pakistan as likely to be the second choicest place for foreign direct investment.
ADB has been a long and trusted development partner for Pakistan. Government of Pakistan highly appreciates the role of ADB in formulation of Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the year 2015-19 that will focus on infrastructure development to help attract private investment, improve connectivity, boost productivity, create jobs and provide access to markets and basic public services. ADB has indicative assistance of US$ 4 billion for the three-years (2016-18).
Regional cooperation and integration is one of the key pillars of ADB’s Strategy 2020. Regional connectivity is also one of the seven key elements of Pakistan’s Vision 2025 and therefore, Pakistan seeks to expand its trade and investment links with the region in the east, west and central Asia. In line with the above objective, it is a great pleasure for the Government of Pakistan to be the host for holding the Ministerial Conference of CAREC this year.
I would like to conclude by felicitating ADB for pursuing the reform agenda set out in the medium-term review of Strategy 2020 (MTR) for realigning its strategic agenda in light of the emerging development challenges facing the Asia and Pacific region.
Under your able leadership, the merger of OCR and ADF financial resources and other reform initiatives will enhance ADB’s financial capacity and is an innovative and interesting approach to address the Bank’s longer-term sustainability.
We trust that ADB will continue to explore all efforts to make its resources available to its developing member countries at most affordable terms so as to achieve progress that is truly inclusive and meaningful. Indeed, we look forward to a much greater and more fruitful collaboration with ADB.”