Pakistan should work towards inclusive growth: IMF

Islamabad, Oct 25 (IANS) Pakistan should make the best of the current momentum and continue with reforms to achieve inclusive growth, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday.

Last month, Pakistan finally completed a three-year IMF programme valued at $6.6 billion to avert a balance of payments crisis, Efe news reported.

“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,” Lagarde, on an official visit to Islamabad, said at a joint press conference with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Lagarde, the first IMF head to visit Pakistan in a decade, congratulated the Pakistani authorities for completing the programme, by reducing subsidies, privatising state firms and increasing foreign reserves, but pointed out that more reforms were required.

Lagarde stressed on the need to continue with important structural reforms in the energy sector, improving governance, reducing public deficit, increasing exports and ensuring a higher revenue collection.

Additionally, the IMF Managing Director spoke of the need for strengthening health, education, closing the gender gap and providing social protection to ensure a more inclusive growth.

According to government data, one-third of the country’s 200 million inhabitants live in poverty.

Minister Dar said Pakistan is making an effort to achieve growth that includes all sections of the society and pointed out that its expenditure on development rose to $7.6 billion in 2016 from just $2.8 billion three years ago.