Event with Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon-- A Brief Recap
April 9, 2010
Hidden Creek Country Club, 1711 Clubhouse Road, Reston, VA, 20190
Ambassador Haroon stated that the current government in Pakistan inherited an economy characterized by severe macroeconomic imbalances; stagnant growth, double-digit inflation, unsustainable debt, large fiscal and balance of payments deficits, perilously low foreign exchange reserves, and flight of capital.
He claimed that measures taken by the new democratic government have stabilized the economy, and while it continues to remain weak, there are signs of gradual recovery; inflation has declined, budget deficit and balance of payments deficits have narrowed, foreign exchange reserves have been substantially rebuild, investor and consumer confidence is increasing, and growth has resumed.
Ambassador Haroon acknowledged that the economy continues to face daunting challenges, both owing to the lingering effects of previous government’s economic mismanagement, and the on-going fragility of the external economic environment. He listed, among others, severe shortages of power, reduced water availability, economic drag on account of “war on terror”, and the resulting uncertainty and frail security situation as some of the serious challenges faced by the country.
He indicated that given the growing economic needs of the population, there are a number of investment opportunities in Pakistan. For example, coal-based power generation, production of industrial raw materials (steel and cement), agricultural inputs (fertilizer and pesticides), primary health care, and education. He, however, did not provide any details of the required steps needed to take advantage of these opportunities.
During the question answer session, he underscored the need for improved relations with Pakistan’s neighboring countries, in particular, India, refocusing the public sector expenditures on primary health care, especially availability of clean potable water, and efforts to reduce dependence on foreign assistance by promoting external trade.
The session was concluded by Mr. Javed Qamar, President OPEN Washington who thanked the Ambassador and the guests for their participation, acknowledged the contribution of Mr. Imran Malik, Mr. Omer Malik, and Dr. Saqib Rizavi in hosting the function, and gave a brief preview of the up-coming OPEN events.