ISLAMABAD : Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin has said that Pakistan will not expect any monetary help from Japan, but will definitely appreciate economic assistance against a menu of projects, according to a message received here from Tokyo on Friday. Shaukat Tarin said this while briefing Japanese media after holding meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister.

Tarin said: “We have asked Japan to set up exclusive economic zones in Karachi and Gwadar.” He said Pakistan was interested in developing its agriculture, manufacturing and energy sectors with the assistance of Japan, and added that strategic needs of Pakistan, such as development of water resources, roads, railways and poverty reduction were also discussed with the Japanese leaders.

He said Pakistan was a frontline state in war against terrorism, which had badly affected its economy. “I go back with the hope that Japan as a close friend of Pakistan will stand side by side with it in the war against terror,” he said.

Responding to a query, the Finance Adviser said: “Our economy is stabilising after the shock of high oil and food prices. However, Pakistan is still in need of five billion-dollar aid per year approximately for the next three to five years.”

Responding to another question, he said that Pakistan’s total local and foreign loan was 46 billion-dollar. He said that efforts were being made to reduce current budget deficit and bring down inflation. Fiscal deficit was controlled to a great extent, he added. Tarin said that Pakistan’s growth rate for current financial year would be 3.5 percent, but during the next financial year it could easily reach five per cent.

Responding to one question, he said there was consensus among all political parties on the important national issues. However, difference of opinion on many issues was part of the democratic system, he added. To another query, he said that Friends of Pakistan conference would probably take place in March 2009. “We welcome it if Japan holds the said conference in Tokyo,” he said.-PR

Source: Business Recorder