Lagarde Calls on Pakistan to Build on Progress to Complete Economic Transformation
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today at the conclusion of her visit to Pakistan:
“I would like to start by offering my condolences to the Pakistani people for the tragic loss of lives at the Quetta attack overnight. We are deeply sorry for the families of those who lost their lives in this horrific attack.
“I wish to thank Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Central Bank Governor Ashraf Wathra, and other senior government officials for their productive exchange of views and their warm hospitality during my visit to Islamabad.
“I congratulate Pakistan on having successfully completed its IMF-supported economic reform program. Improved macroeconomic stability as well as strengthened external buffers and public finances will provide a solid foundation for the economy. Many tax exemptions and concessions have been removed, and higher tax revenue has allowed for greater public investment and social spending. About 1.5 million more poor households are benefiting from targeted social assistance than three years ago. Power outages have gradually decreased and the financial performance of the power sector is strengthening. A country-wide strategy to improve the business climate is being implemented.
“Much has been achieved and much more remains to be done, so this is Pakistan’s moment of opportunity to forcefully address remaining economic challenges and lay the foundation for more private sector job creation and higher living standards for all segments of society.
“In my discussions, I emphasized the need to continue strengthening resilience by building fiscal and external cushions to be adequately prepared for future economic shocks. Achieving higher and more sustainable growth will also require completing important structural reforms in the energy sector, and tax policy and administration; ending losses in public enterprises; and making a sustained effort to improve governance and foster a dynamic and export-oriented private sector. In parallel, added focus on strengthening health, education, closing the gender gap and providing social protection can ensure that gains in living standards are widely shared.
“My visit also gave me an opportunity to meet with students, women leaders, and representatives of the business community and civil society. I am grateful for the perspectives they shared with me about Pakistan’s opportunities and challenges. Pakistan’s economic transformation cannot happen without the country’s youth—who comprise about 60 percent of the population—and women, of whom only one in four participate in the labor force.
“While the IMF-supported program has been completed, Pakistan’s partnership with the IMF continues through our ongoing close policy dialogue and capacity building engagement. I would like to reiterate the IMF’s strong support for Pakistan as the country moves forward to address its economic challenges and realize its vast economic potential.”