The Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Senator Ishaq Dar briefed the Canadians from various walks of life on the state of economy under the democratically-elected Government of Pakistan Muslim League (N).
The Finance Minister addressed a gathering of Canadian and Pakistani businessmen, entrepreneurs and professionals at an interactive session organized jointly by the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto and Canada-Pakistan Business Council (CPBC).
The briefing was attended by Canadian Parliamentarians, Senator Salma Ataullahjan, MP John McCallum, MP Brad Butt, Ontario Minister for Research and Innovation, Dr. Reza Moridi and MPP Dr. Shafiq Qaadri. CPBC Chairman Bryon Wilfert, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Akbar Zeb, Consul General Nafees Zakaria, President CPBC Samir Dossal and Ontario Economic Department’s Officials were among the notable participants.
Minister Ishaq Dar outlined the bold policy steps taken by the Government to address the challenges of economy, energy crisis and security, which resulted in a promising outcome. He said that the impressive macro-economic indicators, as monitored and assessed by the International Financial Institutions, present a picture of sustainable growth and economic stability. He stated that the IMF gave a clean chit to the Pakistan’s economic health, which led to the engagement with major financial institutions. The economic performance would enable Pakistan to enter the international bond market after 7 years of absence.
Senator Dar shared the good news about significant enhancement in foreign investments due to the restoration of investors’ confidence at the back of strengthening of Rupee vis-à-vis US dollar and other currencies, high and speedy returns for venture capitalists.
On tackling security, the Minister said that the Government was determined to deal with the issue of extremism decisively and eradicate the menace. Pakistan wants to give peace a chance. He regretted that despite Pakistan’s sacrifices, colossal economic losses and sincere efforts, some were playing the blame game. He stressed that Pakistan was fighting the common enemy.
He assured the Canadian and Pakistani Community that Pakistan was on path to economic recovery and cited the economist Jim O’Neil’s prediction that by 2050 Pakistan would be the 18th largest economy of the world. He was confident that with exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves and other natural resources, it could be achieved much earlier. Minister Dar mentioned that the Government was adhered to the 4Es of the election manifesto that is Economy, Energy, Education and Eradication of Extremism.
On Afghanistan, he underlined Pakistan’s firm commitment to peace and stability. Pakistan recently enhanced its commitment to US$500 million in development and humanitarian projects, including a Kidney Centre for which he invited Canadian collaboration.
MP John McCallum, the former Chief Economist, lauded Senator Dar’s briefing and expressed understanding that Pakistan indeed was full of potential.
Senator Salma Ataullahjan praised Pakistani Community’s contributions to the development and progress of Canada. She assured the Minister that Canada wished to work closely with Pakistan in diverse areas.
MP Brad Butt also praised Pakistan and its Diaspora and shared pleasant experience of his recent visit to Pakistan.
Minister Reza Moridi, while mentioning Canadian achievements in the fields of Bio-Sciences, ICT and Health Sector, said that from the political goodwill and cordial relations, Pakistan and Canada can touch new heights in their relationship. He said that the trade was far too below the true potential that existed in the two countries. He also presented Premier Kathleen Wynne’s greetings to the Finance Minister in which she expressed her confidence that the Minister’s visit would pave the way for mutually beneficial increased prospects for bilateral trade and investment.
The Chairman CPBC presented a vote of thanks and said that the Minister’s presentations were hugely informative and reassuring. He urged the audience to spread the word to counter the negative media coverage.
The session ended on Q&A with the participants.