Gilani wants time for structural reforms

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday asked donors to give more time to Pakistan to carry out structural reforms including expanding the tax base.
Addressing the plenary session of the Pakistan Development Forum (PDF), the prime minister also said his government was willing to take unpopular decisions to meet the long term challenge of flood reconstruction, institutional and structural reforms for a glorious tomorrow. “We are prepared to take political risks for providing the necessary leadership to our people.
We have demonstrated our will to take unpopular decisions. However, our resolve to lead our people to a glorious tomorrow is unflinching,” Gilani said.
He said, “Please consider this work in progress. Kindly be patient with Pakistan. Your support and commitment is required over a much longer period, during which we can channel your assistance towards institutional and structural reforms.
Gilani said Pakistan had been able to meet the immediate challenges posed by the floods and by terrorism. “Yet there were long term challenges that were daunting,” he said. He said the flood reconstruction would require billions in investment while the country’s institutions also needed to be reformed.
“We need your long-term and consistent support in helping us support our institutions, our systems, so together we can continue on a journey which would make Pakistan, and its people, realise their full potential,” he said.
Gilani said the government believed in leading the people through painful yet fundamental reforms. Gilani said Pakistan deeply appreciated the support and warmth of friendly countries and its bilateral and multilateral partners.
He said the extreme difficulties that the people of Pakistan had faced over the last three years had tested their resolve as a nation, courage, determination and resilience.
He said, “We as a nation have proven our resolve, our courage and determination, our resilience.” He said the destruction of lives and property, by the floods had been met through the benevolence of fellow Pakistanis, swift government action and timely international humanitarian support.
Gilani said “We need to collect more revenues, require policy and tax administration reforms, promote growth, create employment opportunities.”
The prime minister said in an environment badly damaged by floods and by frequent attacks by terrorists, the people must not lose hope. Gilani said Pakistan had embarked on the way to help itself and pointed to the consensus on the 7th National Finance Commission Award, promulgated the 18th Amendment.
“We have committed ourselves to a timeline for reduction of ministries. The prime minister said the government was now activating the public sector reform, required under the 18th Amendment.
He said to rationalise expenditures, his government removed the general subsidies and replaced those with targeted subsidies for the poor and vulnerable.
He said a reform programme was being pursued to achieve a better level of governance. He said Pakistan was a large country, of more than 180 million people and remarkable diversity.
“Therefore, change would not come because of donor support to a few programmes. Your support and commitment is required over a much longer period, during which we can channelise your assistance towards institutional and structural reforms,” he said.