UK offers help to improve tax ratio

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ISLAMABAD: The United Kingdom appreciated the economic reform initiatives of the government on Friday and offered assistance in improving tax-to-GDP ratio of the country.

The head of UK Department for International Development (DFID), Richard Montgomery while offering assistance to improve tax-to-GDP ratio, told Secretary Economic Affairs Division Nargis Sethi that the United Kingdom would like to align its assistance to Pakistan with the priorities of the government.

The aid-talks are an annual feature of the bilateral development assistance arrangement between the two countries. Secretary Economic Affairs Division Nargis Sethi and the head of UK Department for International Development (DFID), Richard Montgomery led their respective delegations at the talks.

These talks reviewed the progress against the mutually agreed pillars of poverty alleviation, achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), improvement in public financial management, respect for international obligations and aid effectiveness. According to EAD officials, the two countries discussed various aspects of UK development assistance to Pakistan. During the talks both sides exchanged information on each other of their strategic priorities, and agreed to discuss one success story of a United Kingdom assisted development project.

The project selected for this purpose was the Punjab Education Support Project which is being partly financed by DFID. Both sides agreed that the project has been able to deliver substantial results on account of the commitment and leadership provided by the Punjab government, particularly the chief minister.

Similar work is being replicated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the assistance of DFID. It was decided that the Punjab government would host a workshop with all the provincial governments to share the lessons of the project so that the benefits of the experience in Punjab can be shared with others. Nargis Sethi informed the DFID delegation that the new government has very clear development priorities which are being articulated in the form of ‘Vision 2025’ and five-year development plan (2013-18).

These two documents are expected to be ready within next few months. Such articulation is required for monitoring the performance and to ensure delivery of results for the people, she said.

Ms Seth further informed the DFID delegation about the basic features of the vision of the government for reforms of the economy and development. She said that the strategy of the government was to revive the economy, create jobs and thus ensure alleviation of poverty.

She also emphasized the importance of ongoing reforms in the energy sector to achieve these objectives. She said that combating extremism and promoting education were also basic cornerstones of this government’s strategy.

A summary of DFID’s work in Pakistan (2011-15) says that UK aid to Pakistan is an investment in a more prosperous, more stable country that will not only help millions of poor Pakistanis, but will also improve stability and security in Pakistan, the region and beyond.

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