ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Monday met Najy Benhassine, country director for Pakistan at the World Bank Group, as the South Asian country reels from multiple economic challenges.
The South Asian nation is embarking on a tricky path to economic recovery under a caretaker government after a $3 billion loan program, approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July, averted a sovereign debt default. But reforms set out as conditions for the IMF loan have complicated the task of keeping price pressures and declines in Pakistan’s rupee currency in check, with the last several weeks marred by nationwide protests over record electricity and fuel prices.
An easing of import restrictions and a demand that subsidies be removed have already fueled annual inflation, which rose to a record 38.0 percent in May. Interest rates have also risen, and the rupee hit all-time lows. Last month the currency fell 6.2 percent.
“The World Bank is playing a role for the development of the backward areas of Pakistan, especially the remote areas of Balochistan,” Kakar was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office after his meeting with Benhassine.
“The first priority of the government is to take the backward areas on the path of development like other parts of the country.”
Pakistan’s economic woes were exacerbated last year as record monsoon rains and melting glaciers displaced some 8 million people and killed at least 1,700 in a catastrophe blamed on climate change. Most of the waters have now receded but the floods cost the economy $30 billion in damages, with millions of homes and thousands of kilometers of roads and railway still needing rebuilding.
“The World Bank played its role in helping and rehabilitating the affected people in the historic floods of 2022,” the PM said. “The government will provide all possible administrative support to complete the ongoing rehabilitation work in the affected areas.”