World Bank chief commends Pakistan

WASHINGTON (October 01 2002) : The World Bank President, James D. Wolfensohn, has commended Pakistan for staying the reform course while urging greater efforts to ensure that the benefits reached the country's poor people.

“We have seen Pakistan make a really sustained effort and stick to the ambitious programme of restructuring that it laid out nearly three years ago,” said Wolfensohn during his meeting with Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz here on Saturday.

He noted that Pakistan's poverty reduction programme was on track and that it had made good progress on debt restructuring and building up its reserves.

Other “runs on the board” for the country included the privatisation of United Bank, soon to be followed by Habib Bank, he said, adding reforms in tax administration and privatisation of oil and gas, while challenging still, were moving ahead.

However, growth remained slow and restructuring was an ongoing challenge in the water and power sectors and in agriculture.

In addition, for Pakistan to accelerate its GDP growth to five percent, it needed to improve its investment climate for which Wolfensohn offered help from the Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

“Pakistan has been at work in a very challenging environment both internally and due to several big external shocks,” said Wolfensohn.

“The country is now beginning its return to democracy and we hope that all citizens remain committed to the restructuring programme on which there is still much work to be done, for each and every citizen of Pakistan to live in peace and security, the benefit of today's effort must be deepened and sustained and must reach the very poorest.”

“The World Bank remains your partner as long as you stay the course on the road to good governance and an improved standard of living for all,” he said.

Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz thanked the World Bank for its strong programme of support from the International Development Association (IDA).

“We know that your lending can only be as good as our reform programme,” he said, adding: “So we appreciate that you have supported us significantly over the past two years.

“Looking ahead, we know that its up to us to sustain and even redouble our reform efforts for these sorts of external resource flows to continue. We say again, our commitment to continue the restructuring of our country continues for it is in the interests of all Pakistan that we not waver,” said Shaukat Aziz.

Aziz welcomed the assistance from the IFC to sharpen Pakistan's investment climate.

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