Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Shamshad Akhtar meets Mark Suzman, CEO of the Global Growth and Opportunity Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in Marrakesh.—APP
Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Shamshad Akhtar meets Mark Suzman, CEO of the Global Growth and Opportunity Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in Marrakesh.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will introduce the next generation of the Raast-supported digital public infrastructure (DPI) project, reducing reliance on cash and driving financial inclusion in the country, with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates (BMG) Foundation.

In this regard, the finance ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BMG Foundation in Marrakesh on Friday on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF.

Before the signing of the MoU, Mark Suzman, CEO of the Global Growth and Opportunity Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates (BMG) Foundation, met with Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, to discuss the Pakistan Digital Stack, the next generation of the Raast-supported DPI that Pak­is­tan plans to introduce with the assistance of the BMG Foundation.

The MoU solidifies the foundation’s continued support for this digital infrastructure project, following the success of the Raast, Pakistan instant payment system, the ministry of finance said in a press release on Saturday.

BMG Foundation signs MoU to support digital infrastructure project

The National Financial Inclusion Council, chaired by the finance minister, will oversee the implementation of the Digital Pakistan Stack, marking a significant step towards fostering inclusive economic growth and development in Pakistan.

The Raast project aims to improve payment infrastructure with the objectives of further developing digital financial services, reducing reliance on cash, and driving financial inclusion in Pakistan.

Raast will become a core component of Pakistan’s payment infrastructure, enabling individuals, businesses and government entities to make any payment digitally in a simple, fast, low-cost and secure manner.

Pakistan’s faster, state-of-the-art payment system will be used to settle small-value retail payments in real-time while providing affordable and universal access to all players in the financial industry, including commercial banks, microfinance banks, government entities, and fintechs.

Global tax policy reforms

Meanwhile, during a roundtable discussion on Global Tax Policy Reforms and G-24’s options, Dr Akhtar expressed a strong commitment to fostering international cooperation and innovative tax policy solutions to enhance the country’s revenue base.

The event served as a platform for a meaningful dialogue on pressing global economic issues and exploring dynamic tax reform options within the G-24 community.

Customising IMF programme

Meanwhile, Dr Akhtar emphasised the importance of tailoring IMF programmes according to the unique economic contexts of partner countries during an event with the theme “Making IMF-supported programmes work” at the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Marrakesh.

Dr Akhtar shared her insights and perspectives on ensuring effective collaboration between governments and international financial institutions, drawing upon her extensive experience in financial matters and leadership in economic affairs.

Climate change

In another event, Dr Akhtar emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to addressing climate change challenges through comprehensive strategies and initiatives during a seminar titled “Transforming Climate Action through Country Climate Development Reports”.

The session also included representatives from Tajikistan and Malawi, according to a press release from the Ministry of Finance.

In the discussions, she expressed the firm resolve of the government to address climate change challenges through comprehensive strategies and initiatives.

The diverse panel of experts brought valuable perspectives and experiences to the table, facilitating a rich exchange of ideas and best practices for fostering international cooperation and knowledge-sharing in the global fight against climate change.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2023

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