Pakistan and European Union on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the EU’s Multi Indicative Programme (2014-2020) with a commitment of 653 million euros.

Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Secretary Tariq Bajwa and European Union Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain signed the MoU. Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister of Finance, and mbassadors and representatives witnessed the signing of the MoU from EU member states.

The minister, on this occasion, stated that the government appreciates the development assistance being given to Pakistan by EU. He appreciated the fact that the new MIP at €653 million is almost double the amount of the previous MIP. He stated that building a stable, democratic pluralistic and economically vibrant Pakistan is the aim of the government. He said that the government is committed to achieving this objective and called upon the EU and its member countries to support Pakistan in achieving this objective.

‘The €653 million EU Multiannual Indicative Programme for Pakistan sets out the EU’s development strategic objectives in support of a stable, democratic and pluralistic Pakistan, in line with the EU-Pakistan five years engagement plan 2012-2017, which frames the relationship between the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, said EU Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain.

The memorandum of understanding, it may be added, reflects the indicative and mutually agreed assistance priorities for the period 2014-2020. The assistance provided under the MIP 2014-2020 will concentrate on three focal sectors of rural development, education and good governance, human rights and rule of law.

APP adds: The objective of the programme was to reduce poverty from the country for which government with its other partners and stakeholder like Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, was striving hard to reduce poverty besides strengthening the social safety nets to bring out the vulnerable segments of the society form the poverty circle, Dar remarked.

Ishaq Dar said that government had increased its spending on social safety nets during its current years budget and enhance the stipends amount by 50 percent, adding that the programme would further strengthen the government efforts to reduce poverty from the country.

He said the outreach of income support programme was expanded to 5.3 million families during this year which would help to alleviate poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The minister said the major focus of the programme would be on under developed areas of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtun Khwa provinces, adding that a steering committe was also formed for transparent use of the fund. Ishaq Dar said the higher officials of the relevant ministries would be the members of the committee with its co-chairmen Secretary Economic Affairs and Ambassador of EU respectively.