Need to think 'out of the box' solutions to boost trade, economic coop with India: Pak Fin Min

By Sajjad Hussain Islamabad, Dec 4 (PTI) Pakistan on Tuesday said it will continue to take Kartarpur Corridor-like initiatives as an "out of the box" solution to increase trade and economic cooperation with India amid tension between the two neighbours. Speaking at the 11th South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here, Pakistan's Finance Minister Asad Umar said that intra-regional trade was of vital importance to bring the people out of poverty and attain the goals of progress and prosperity. He asserted that the government will continue to take Kartarpur Corridor-like initiatives in order to promote the message of peace and prosperity. He said India's reaction about the Pakistan's goodwill gesture to open Kartarpur Corridor was unfortunate. On November 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur Corridor. On November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor in Gurdaspur. "We really need to think out of the box solutions for regional cooperation amid tensions and confrontations between the two states," Umar said. "It is our inability that we failed to get people of the region out of poverty. It is a real opportunity for those political leaders, who believe in a peaceful and prosperous South Asia," he said. The minister also said that Pakistan was still pinning hopes to strengthen the SAARC cooperation in the future. Highlighting the government's role in promoting cross regional energy transfer and inter-regional trade, Umar said channelisation of non-political forums to build political space for policy making is required for an effective cooperation among South Asian states. Commenting on the recent dollar spike against Pakistani rupees, the minister said that the neutrality of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is intact and "we believe in autonomy of the institution whereas there is no change in the government policy". He said that the recent decision on the exchange rate was taken by the central bank, however, there is a need to improve the communication mechanism, that's why the SBP governor has also been taken on board to devise a communication mechanism in this regard. "If needed, we will further institutionalise the structure and role of the SBP," Umar said, adding that the financing gap is complete and we don't have any current account crisis, though a lot needs to be done." Meanwhile, Radio Pakistan reported that Umar, in his address at the SDPI, emphatically stated that the government had successfully overcome the economic crisis with the help of friendly countries. He said spreading rumours about the national economy would not do any service to the country. The minister said all the fundamental economic indicators were now improving with exports witnessing an upward trend while the imports are decreasing. He said the current account deficit was also being overcome gradually. He said Pakistan was emerging as a vibrant economy and offering immense opportunities for investment. The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev. The corridor is expected to be completed within six months. PTI SH SMJ AKJ SMJSMJ