YOKOHAMA/ISLAMABAD - Billing intra-regional trade and connectivity as sine qua non for sustainable economic development of Asia and the Pacific, Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar exuded unequivocal support to One Belt and One Road - a giant initiative undertaken by China for economic progress and prosperity on sound grounds.

Expressing his views over the reservations voiced by Indian Finance Minister Arun Jailtly on the vision of connectivity during a debate on Trade, hosted by CNBC here at Conference Centre, Ishaq Dar categorically stated, "Pakistan fully supports the One Belt One Road Initiative", adding that such gigantic leap was pressingly needed to address the economic challenges as well as persisting issues in a lasting manner.

President, Asian Development Bank Takehito Nakao and Indonesia Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati were also participants of the debate along with Finance Ministers of Pakistan and India.

In response to a question during the debate, the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitly had stated that in general terms the idea of connectivity was good, however India had reservations in this regard and he would not like to get into further debate on this issue at this forum.

Describing the connectivity as name of the game, Ishaq Dar said that Asian Development Bank had a greater role to play in this regard to achieve ultimate economic goals and objectives.

The Minister said world was now a global village and no region could economically survive in isolation, therefore cooperation, coordination and connectivity were badly needed to ensure economic development in this part of the planet.

He said different countries were faced with diverse economic challenges and issues that is why, he observed a single generic solution could not help resolve their problems.

The Minister was of the view that Asian Development Bank was well-positioned to play an effective role in fostering intra-regional trade and promoting financial integration and connectivity for the mutual benefits.

He further said another important initiative - China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) - had been taken which could not only ensure economic cooperation among China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iran but would also pave level playing course for all in terms of economic dividends.

Regional trade, economic cooperation and connectivity was a way forward to get the economic grail realized, ensuring economic prosperity and checking the menacing problem of poverty, he noted.

To another query, Ishaq Dar said the economic approach of connectivity was also aimed at eliminating protectionism, abolishing barriers and facilitating trade.

Responding to another question, the Minister was of firm opinion that the role of the government in the economy was indispensable and the economic activities could not be left merely at the mercy of private sector.

The government, he stressed had an important and due role to play in the economy as an enabler to give right policies, ensuring that economic fabric is proceeding in the right direction.

The Minister further said the future in fact linked with the vision of economic and financial connectivity within the region and beyond and the One Belt and One Road and CPEC would help translate the idea of connectivity into reality.

Pakistan now focusing on

sustainable economic growth

NNI from Islamabad: Federal Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Saturday said that Asia is leading this endeavor of reducing poverty through its phenomenal economic growth.

“Around 125000 people are coming out of poverty on daily basis globally,” the Finance Minister added while addressing a Round Table Conference on the theme, ‘Responding to Rising Inequality’ held in connection with Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 50th Annual meeting of the Board of Governors in Yokohama, Japan.

The Finance Minister stated that, “Developing world had made remarkable progress in lowering incidence of poverty in last two decades.”

Referring to the economic turnaround in Pakistan, the Minister said, “After having achieved macroeconomic stability, Pakistan is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

Highlighting the issue of rising inequality, the Minister said, “Income inequality was only one aspect of inequality whereas disparities in terms of gender, region etc also needs to be addressed to ensure sustainable development.”

In this regard he referred to the Pakistan's Vision 2025 which prioritized investments in human capital and social services, recognized the importance of inclusive and balanced growth and shared prosperity aiming at redressal to geographical and social inequality. He added that, “Present Government in Pakistan strongly believed that benefits of growth must be shared by all segments of society, especially the marginalized groups.”

The Minister highlighted the efforts to deal with horizontal and vertical inequalities including access of poor to health and education, endowment fund for education, work on social safety nets, skills development, disaster mitigation, increase in Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) budget allocation and implementation of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).

The Minister showed confidence that development partners, including ADB would play important role in addressing inequality.