Thursday, January 08, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Many developed countries in the Friends of Pakistan (FOP)
forum have termed Pakistan’s request for obtaining $60 billion financing for 71 development projects as a “wish list” or a “long shopping list”, recommending that each donor country may be assigned one or two projects so that some concrete commitment is obtained.
When contacted, Federal Finance Secretary, Dr Waqar Masood, told The News on Wednesday that the next expert level meeting of the FOP, which was scheduled to be held by January 13, 2009, was delayed till the third week of January.
It is relevant to mention here that Islamabad will have to deliberate upon its strategy keeping in view the received feedback from donors’ capitals in order to fine tune its future course of action.
A detailed feedback obtained by Pakistan’s Foreign Office as well as Economic Ministries in the aftermath of the last FOP meeting held on November 17, 2008 at Abu Dhabi spells out in details the prevailing thinking of the developed world, which clearly states that if Islamabad did not prioritise its list, the member countries would remain non-committal to come forward to undertake these projects owing to the worldwide financial crisis, the burn of which was being felt by all the developed countries.
The donors are also suggesting Pakistan formulate short term, medium term and long term strategies in accordance with the importance of each projects. The best way should be to adopt an incremental approach because it would not be possible for the member countries to commit everything on the long demand list immediately.
Official documents exclusively available with The News state that the donor countries appreciated these efforts for undertaking this initiative in order to meet two major challenges which Pakistan is confronting, namely security issues and economic crisis.
The participants, according to the feedback, supported the ideas and plans of the Government of Pakistan. The success of this will now depend upon the hot pursuit by Pakistan.
The donor countries also raised objections on duplication of work, saying that the Friends of Pakistan and Pakistan Development Forum (PDF) are more or less the same.
The donor countries in PDF are also similar so either these two forums should be merged together or the existing PDF should be reactivated. “The PDF meetings are an annual event but no such meetings have taken place for the last two years,” the donors’ response further stated.
The bilateral donors also asked Islamabad to utilise the expertise of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the IMF, WB and ADB. “Therefore, it was recommended that the WB may be invited in the next Experts Level Meetings to be held in January 2009,” they added.
The donors also proposed to Islamabad to establish a FATA Trust Fund under the umbrella of the World Bank so that necessary trust and confidence of members is strengthened. It was also suggested that each component of FATA Development Program such as construction, publication and distribution of books and training of teachers may be assigned to each country separately for effective implementation.
It was pointed out that since Pakistan needs long term development assistance, it is necessary to highlight the economic, political and administrative constraints for devising strategies. “There is no credible data or any necessary factsheet available for the international community on Pakistan’s economic situation,” they added.
The donor countries during the meeting were not briefed about the possible impact of the IMF program on the economy and its impact on the general masses of Pakistan. “Pakistan may request the IMF to circulate amongst all concerned countries, the necessary data and factsheet about the country, highlighting the likely impact of the IMF package on the overall economy of Pakistan. The report may also recommend additional funding to Pakistan,” it stated.
The donors are also stressing upon Pakistan to establish a close collaboration between USA and itself in all areas of mutual interest. The lukewarm attitude of USA would make other member countries of the FOP give a cold shoulder to Pakistan’s economic assistance requirements, they concluded.