LAHORE: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday said that projects worth $2 billion for Pakistan would be finalised after consultation with the private and public sectors.

“The $2bn ADB-funded projects related to food security, health, irrigation and education would play a pivotal role in the economic development of Pakistan,” said ADB Deputy Country Director Asad Aleem while speaking to the office bearers and members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI). “In this regard, consultative sessions have been held with the actual stakeholders, including Sindh and Punjab governments,” he added.

Mr Aleem said that since meetings have also been held with Karachi and Lahore chambers and the Pakistan Business Council to get feedback from the private sector, the bank’s prime objective is to know what should be done in the country.

“The ADB supports projects in developing member countries that create economic and development impact, delivered through both public and private sector operations, advisory services, and knowledge support,” he said, mentioning the strategy 2030 that sets the course for the ADB’s efforts to respond effectively to Asia and the Pacific’s changing needs.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan said the chamber fully recognised the ADB’s role in the economic development of Pakistan since 1966. Over the years, ADB has committed over $37bn to promote inclusive economic growth and improve the country’s infrastructure, energy and food security, transport networks, and social services, etc.

He said the LCCI is of the view that the subsidy should be available only to those deserving of it. “We want the pharma sector of Pakistan to be self-sufficient. Therefore, the international private sector should collaborate in this sector with Pakistan. This will also help transfer modern technology to Pakistan,” he added.

The LCCI officebearer also called for the promotion of mechanised farming and solar energy in Pakistan.

He said that at present, Pakistan is going through the toughest economic times in its history as a devaluation of more than 30pc has taken place in the last one year, inflation has crossed 13pc and the trade deficit has surpassed $39bn in the first ten months of the current financial year. “The State Bank’s foreign exchange reserves have depleted to around $10bn. These steep economic challenges have an adverse trickle-down effect on the growth of the private sector,” Mr Chan said.

He said Pakistan needs to ensure macroeconomic stability, fiscal consolidation, and consistent improvement in the business environment through better facilitation of the private sector.

“We need to promote high value-added exports, expand social spending, increase the cost-effectiveness of the energy sector and implement structural changes to remain economically sustainable. The role of the private sector in the transformation of our economy is pivotal,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2022

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