Comprehensive policy framework to manage current crisis prepared

ISLAMABAD (APP) - The Government has prepared a comprehensive policy framework to manage the current economic crisis with a stabilization programme with adequate safeguards for protecting the poor and most vulnerable with income support, insurance and other mechanisms. "Our first priority is to take decisive action to restore growth momentum and microeconomic and macroeconomic stability", Shaukat Tarin Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs, while addressing the participants of the 5th Citi-PPAF Micro-entrepreneurship Aaward-2008 here at a local hotel this morning. Shaukat Tarin said the government is fully cognizant of the fact that there are accumulated twin imbalances of trade and fiscal deficits that need adjustment. "We are equally alive to the fact that if timely and well sequenced action is not initiated immediately it will lead to substantial economic setback reflected by depreciation of the rupee further and high inflationary pressures", he remarked. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PPAF Kamal Hyat and Citi Country Officer/MD Arif Usmani also spoke on the occasion. He maintained that the country is facing a number of difficult challenges on the economic and financial fronts. On one hand, he said they emanate from a precarious global situation and on the other hand they are structural and domestic nature. He added that the first priority is to take decisive action to restore growth momentum and micro economic stability. He further said that a simultaneous focus is on identification and rectification of structural weaknesses of the economy over the medium term with sound strategies, development priorities and institutional improvements. "There is firm resolve and commitment on our part to address these weaknesses", he remarked. Shaukat Tarin added that in order to effectively overcome the current crisis there is need for national ownership and buy-in at all levels and every Pakistani needs to work towards effective implementation and eventual success of the policies being put in place. He added that access to financial services that is inclusive, efficiently delivered and cost effective lies at the heart of the pro-poor policy agenda of the Government for economic growth and development. He lauded the efforts of and the catalytic role PPAF has played over the last 8 years, in developing the micro-finance sector as well as providing non- financial services such as water, infrastructure, health and education at the grassroots. "As a market developer and the single largest financer, PPAF has driven the sector enabling its partner organizations to scale up their operations". "We already see evidence of NGOs converting from small boutique outfits, to specialized service providing institutions and subsequently transforming into micro-finance banking institutions while maintain a clear focus on graduating excluded and poor but productive households as successful and thriving micro-enterprises". " Undoubtedly in PPAF, the Government has a key partner as it takes its poverty reduction strategy forward", he remarked. He added the partnership between Citi-group and PPAF represents an excellent model of public/private partnership - where a global multinational and an apex national institution have worked in tandem. "In my view this reflects the true spirit of partnership in the highest tradition of private sector social responsibility, civic service and corporate citizenship, It gives a whole new meaning to pursuing the double bottom line of financial as well as socio-economic returns", he remarked. Shaukat Tarin said that as both institutions are now in the fifth year of a highly productive collaboration, its durability and sustainability is well established. He also appreciated Citi-PPAF team for initiating the award. Kamal Hyat and Arif Usmani highlighted the objectives of the award for the promotion of micro businesses for poverty alleviation. Later the Minister awarded certificates and cash award among the outstanding micro-entrepreneurs in different small businesses in the country.

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