Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President (Operations) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Finance Ministry this morning and discussed Pakistan’s development goals and initiatives.
Mr. Zhang said that he was pleased to visit Pakistan and highly appreciated the sincere efforts being made by the present Government for the macro-economic development of the country.
He said that ADB has a long-standing and trustworthy relationship with Pakistan since 1966. ADB supports the present government in its reform efforts and development initiatives and that multilateral donors now have more confidence in the country’s economic management. He stated that “we are happy to see how the present Government has managed GDP growth, foreign exchange reserves, budget deficit and development of mega projects in the energy sector in a difficult period.”
Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar thanked the ADB Vice President for the approval of $ 900 million loan for Jamshoro power project stating that “we are highly committed to the development and macro-economic uplift of the country. We have taken certain unpopular decisions but these have been in larger interest of the country”.
Referring to economic indicators, the Finance Minister stated that government’s efforts were bearing fruit. He referred to the quarterly national accounts according to which GDP had grown by 5% in first quarter 2013-14 with strong growth in large scale manufacturing. He apprised the ADB team that IMF had revised upwards estimates of Pakistan’s GDP growth from 2.8% to 3.1% for the current financial year. He stated that the Government had a fiscal deficit target at 6.3% during the current fiscal year while foreign exchange reserves were expected to increase to $16 billion by end of 2014.
Speaking about Pakistan’s development initiatives, the ADB Vice President said that the Bank was finalizing the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2014-18 in consultation with its counterparts in Pakistan. He stated that it was up to Pakistan to prioritize its needs and that ADB would work with Pakistan as per the country’s priorities.
The Finance Minister stated that the Government was giving top priority to the energy sector and, with the clearing of circular debt, 1700 MW of energy had been added to the national grid. He stressed that Pakistan would undertake construction of both Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Dasu Hydropower Project. Both would add to Pakistan’s power generation capacity while the water reservoir of Diamer-Bhasha Dam would also address possible water shortage in the future. He urged the Bank to assist Pakistan as per its development priorities.
Mr. Wencai Zhang assured the Finance Minister that Asian Development Bank will participate in the Diamer-Bhasha project and is looking forward to be a partner in many other regional projects as well.
The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance, Secretary Planning, Secretary Water and Power and other senior officials.