Umar-led delegation meets WB, ADB officials in Washington

Updated April 12, 2019


Umar arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to attend the spring meetings of the World Bank group, which includes the IMF. — Reuters/File
Umar arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to attend the spring meetings of the World Bank group, which includes the IMF. — Reuters/File

A Pakistani delegation led by Finance Minister Asad Umar met with Asian Development Bank and World Bank representatives in Washington to discuss issues related to the economy and reforms undertaken by Islamabad, according to a press statement received by the APP on Friday.

The Pakistani delegation also held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) spring meetings.

The finance minister and his delegation met with the Asian Development Bank (ABD) President Takehiko Nakao and apprised him of the current macroeconomic situation in the country, according to the press statement.

Read: Asad to hold crucial talks on IMF package in US this week

Umar and Nakao discussed the continuation of Pakistan's ongoing engagement with the ADB, while Nakao appreciated the reforms process in the country and assured him of the ADB's continued support.

Earlier, the finance minister reviewed the WB's Pakistan portfolio in a meeting with the WB team led by Hartwig Schafer, the vice president for South Asia, the press release said.

They discussed projects in the pipeline as well as the sectors in which the World Bank could further scale up its interventions in Pakistan.

Read: If Pakistan has been going to IMF for the last 30 years, why is structural adjustment still necessary?

The finance minister also held a meeting with a team of the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) led by Chief Operating Officer Vijay Iyer and shared views about the privatisation policy of the government and the expansion of a public-private partnership framework in the country.

Additionally, the MIGA team apprised the finance minister of its current engagements in Pakistan. They informed him that MIGA was now looking to expand its portfolio in the country.

According to the statement, the finance minister also met with the US Treasury on the sidelines and apprised them of the macroeconomic situation in the country, the reform efforts, and measures being taken to strengthen the anti-money laundering legal and enforcement framework.

Umar also held a meeting with Saudi counterpart Mohammed Al-Jadaan who informed the finance minister about the increasing growth momentum of the Saudi economy and the potential employment opportunities for Pakistani construction workers in the country.

Umar arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to attend the WB and IMF spring meetings. He met WB Group President David R Malpass and senior IMF officials on Wednesday as part of efforts to seek a three-year bailout package.

Read: Asad meets World Bank president, US treasury secretary

Umar speaks to Pakistani-American community

The finance minister also briefly spoke to Pakistani-Americans about the state of the economy at an event at the embassy in Washington.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same," he began. "This is what Pakistan is experiencing."

"We've been going through a recurring cycle of a balance of payments crisis," he said, explaining that he could not recall the last time a government in Pakistan had not inherited a balance of payments crisis and then sought IMF help.

He pointed out that the pattern had remained the same in 1988, 1999, 2008, 2013 and 2018, "so there is something, obviously, which is structurally wrong".

He added that while there may specific decisions that contribute to this, or people who may be responsible, there is clearly something "structural at play which goes beyond personalities and decisions".

In a lighter vein, the finance minister told his audience that Pakistan could set a world record as it was about to enter its 13th IMF programme in 30 years. "That's quite an achievement."

He added that in the short run Pakistan would enter into an IMF programme.