YOKOHAMA -  Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is expected to be above five percent during current fiscal year with inflation slashed to single digit around 4 percent - the lowest in 47 years.

While addressing the second business session of Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) annual meeting, chaired by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Dar said that an effective resource mobilisation strategy helped in increasing tax collections by 60 percent over the last three fiscal years, a 20 percent average annual increase.

The government, as a result of these efforts, successfully brought down the fiscal deficit from 8.2 percent in FY 2013 to 4.6 percent in FY 2016 and projected at 4.1 percent for FY 2017, he added. Despite curtailing fiscal deficit, "we have not only maintained but also significantly increased allocation to the social safety net programme from Rs40 billion to Rs117 billion and national development spending from Rs625 billion in FY 2013 to Rs1600 billion in FY 2017," Dar added.

"Our focus, after achieving macroeconomic stability is now on realising sustainable, inclusive and higher growth and the country's target is to reach to GDP growth rate of 7 percent by FY 2019," he added. "Our economy continued to maintain its growth momentum above 4 percent for the 3rd year in a row with real GDP growing at 4.71 percent in FY 2016, the highest in eight years" he noted. "Pakistan's economy is on the rise and we are open for business offering attractive investment opportunities," he added.

Referring to ADB's 50th anniversary - an occasion to celebrate bank's achievements, the minister extended felicitations to the ADB president, fellow governors and bank management on their contributions towards economic development and poverty reduction in Asia-pacific region over the past 50 years.

Only in last two decades, Asia registered 7 percent growth rate, average per capita income increased from $1600 to $4980+ and based on income below $1.25 per day, poverty line fell from 54pc to 22pc, he added. It is commendable the way President Nakao and his team is pursuing reform agenda in the setting of medium-term review, Strategy 2020, he observed.

"We also appreciate ADF-OCR merger which has enhanced ADB's financial resources to provide greater support to developing member countries. 'Asia Miracle' + 'Rapid Asia progress' have found undoubtedly great contributor and partner in the shape of their family doctor ADB, he said.

The minister further said they are impressed with reforms and initiatives implemented under President Nakao's leadership and Pakistan looks forward to enhancing partnership with ADB and fellow member countries. ADB's initiatives for regional connectivity projects like CAREC are praiseworthy as "financial and economic integration as well as regional connectivity" is the future way forward for even better successes for Asia Pacific, he said.

Expressing gratitude to the government and people of Japan for warm reception and hospitality on the eve of 50th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank, he congratulated President Takehito Nakao, ADB's management and staff, on organising a successful event in the beautiful host city of Yokohama.