Lagarde urges Pakistan to maintain focus on economic reform

25 Oct 16

Pakistan must “forcefully address” further economic reforms to drive higher living standards, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde has said.

Speaking on a visit to the country, she congratulated Pakistan on having completed its IMF-supported economic reform programme, but said: “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.”

During talks with political leaders and senior officials, Lagarde said she had “emphasised the need to continue strengthening resilience” by building fiscal and external buffers so the country was properly 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,” she added.

Pakistan should in parallel with this process strengthen health and education provision and address its gender gap and social protection so that gains in living standards might be widely shared, Lagarde said.

She noted the completed programme had removed many tax exemptions and concessions resulting in higher tax revenues that had allowed for greater public investment and social spending, and that over three years an additional 1.5 million more poor households had benefited from targeted social assistance.

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