Hafeez Shaikh seeks technical input from World Bank on pension reforms

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has requested technical input from the World Bank on the pension reforms currently being prepared by the Ministry of Finance.

The adviser was talking to World Bank’s newly appointed Country Director in Pakistan Najy Benhassine on Thursday.

Dr Shaikh welcomed the country director and appreciated the strong working relationship between the government of Pakistan and the World Bank. He highlighted the reforms initiated by the government to tackle the balance of payment crisis in 2018/19 and to bring stability to the economy.

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The adviser shared details of how the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely impacted the economy and slowed down the reforms programme. He outlined the steps taken by the government to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and to stimulate the economy.

In particular, he highlighted the Prime Minister’s Ehsas programme under which over 16 million of the most vulnerable households had benefitted from cash transfers. Similarly, the support provided to SMEs and businesses in the form of subsidized payroll loans, deferred loan repayments and subsidy on power bills, also kept economic activities afloat during the pandemic induced downturn.

Najy Benhassine appreciated the strong response by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic and highlighted the World Bank’s support to the emergency response, with projects totalling almost half a billion dollars to help the country prevent, detect and respond to the pandemic and strengthen public health preparedness.

Dr Hafeez Shaikh appreciated the support provided by the World Bank during the pandemic and stressed the need to continue with the reforms agenda. In particular, he stressed the need to strengthen public finances with a focus to enhance the tax base and improve expenditure management.

Looking forward, both sides reaffirmed to strengthen the relationship and remove bottlenecks in executing the development projects funded by the World Bank.

The WB portfolio in Pakistan includes 56 active projects amounting to approximately $11 billion. The portfolio supports reforms and investments to strengthen institutions, particularly in fiscal management and human development.

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