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Shaukat Aziz finance minister of the year

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    Shaukat Aziz finance minister of the year

    KARACHI, Jan 27 (PNS): Peter Lee, Editor Euromoney, a financial magazine published from London, Saturday arrived in Pakistan to present a silver platter to Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.

    The Minister has been selected as Euromoney Finance Minister of the Year 2001 by the said magazine.

    The Editor of Euromoney, said "the Pakistan government ensured a stabilized economy by initiating a major program of structural reform to provide a sustainable basis for restoring the country to growth".

    " To gauge the success of government one has to look at the performance of non-agriculture GDP, which grew by 4.3 per cent in 2000-01 from 3.1 per cent in the previous fiscal year. Adjust to take drought-impact into account, this figure rise to 4.8 per cent," Lee said.

    Commenting the economic reform agenda of the government Lee said " The economic reform agenda implemented over the last two years by the Finance Minister is fairly broad based.

    It covers all the key sector of the economy, most notably fiscal management, taxation, agriculture, petroleum pricing and regulation, privatization, monetary and exchange rate management, banking and finance and capital markets. Pakistan needs a lot more to be done in the near future".

    He elaborated that when Shaukat Aziz was appointed Finance Minister by General Pervez Musharraf, he was confronted by the international Monetary Fund demanding deep structural reforms and economic progress before agreeing to move on any further lending to the country. which was at the bring of default at that time.

    At the same time Shaukat Aziz had to fend off attacks from those who criticized him for setting out with his begging bowl for loans for a nation already overburdened with external debt hovering at $ 38 billion.

    Describing the importance of Euromoney he said that it was the world's most authoritative source of information on trends in international banking and capital markets, its monthly coverage of developments in foreign exchange, securities trading, cash management, custody, payments and settlements had been groundbreaking.


    Saturday January 26, 11:46 PM

    Pakistan economy seen on track despite crises

    By Andy Soloman

    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Sweeping economic reforms have helped Pakistan get back on track and weather the fallout from the Afghan war and a military standoff with India, a senior IMF official said on Saturday.

    Paul Chabrier, director of the International Monetary Fund's Middle East department, said while Pakistan was also suffering from the global economic slowdown, the military government of General Pervez Musharraf had stabilised its fragile economy.

    "The figures are quite impressive. We have low inflation, below two percent, the reserves have been built up to $3 billion net. I don't recall when they were at that level before, probably never," Chabrier told a joint news conference also attended by Pakistani Finance Minister, Shaukat Aziz.

    "(The reserves) have been built up in a situation...when there is tension in the area which means there is confidence in the policies of the government," Chabrier added.

    Pakistan last month received $109.5 million from the IMF, the first tranche of a recently agreed three-year $1.31 billion Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility designed to offset the impact of the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

    The loan paved the way for the rescheduling of $12.5 billion in debt owed to the Paris Club of creditors and followed Islamabad's successful conclusion in September of a $596 million IMF standby arrangement.


    But the country, which spends 83 percent of its annual revenues on debt servicing and defence, remains buried under more than $65 billion in foreign and domestic debt.

    Aziz said strict fiscal management and structural reforms had allowed Pakistan to weather the economic storm following the September 11 attacks on the United States that saw Pakistan's export orders plummet and business costs soar.

    "When we entered the post-September 11 situation we were in a situation better than we otherwise would have been in a normal crisis situation," Aziz said. "That required a lot of fiscal discipline, a lot of structural reforms...(that) helped us cope with the crisis."

    Following September 11, Pakistan assumed front-line status as Musharraf signed up for U.S. war on terrorism that sought to flush prime suspect Osama bin Laden out of Afghanistan and punish his protectors in the then ruling Taliban.

    Musharraf, long shunned by the international community for seizing power in a bloodless 1999 coup, swiftly moved from near-pariah status to being courted by major world figures. Pledges of aid and assistance soon followed.

    But the country's risk profile remains high, as up to a million Pakistani and Indian troops face each other across their borders in a crisis sparked by an attack in December on New Delhi's parliament, blamed by India on Pakistan-based militants.

    Earlier on Saturday, Aziz said Pakistan was seeking 105 billion rupees ($1.74 billion) for the fiscal years ending in 2003 and 2004 for bold plans to help to alleviate poverty.

    "That's what we're looking to donors for and every indication is the donors will be very supportive," he said, adding the aid would probably be given in the form of cash grants, soft loans or debt swaps.

    Pakistan's poverty reduction programme aims to funnel significant levels of investment into the health and education sectors.

    [This message has been edited by Abdali (edited January 27, 2002).]


      Shaukat Aziz is one of the bright spots of this administration. He is certainly better than Sattar the foreign minister who looks like someone mashed his face together whenever he goes in front of the cameras. Too bad Maleeha Lodhi is our Ambadaddor to the States - otherwise she would have been the perfect foreign minister.

      Anyway going back to Aziz - he knows what he's doing. He has an understanding on fiscal policies which is something people like Sartaj Azia and Makhdoom lacked.

      So congrats to him. I'd like to see him do more to get the CBR up to par though - its unfair to continue raising the prices of every day goods and gasoline - and letting the freeloaders get away without paying their taxes.


        That is good news, as it shows the man was working and hard, and should continue to do so. Others can learn from his achievement.