Com­ment: Za­far Ma­sud

SouthAsia speaks to Za­far Ma­sud, Chair­man and CEO, Burj Cap­i­tal Pak­istan and a Di­rec­tor at the State Bank of Pak­istan.

Southasia - - CONTENTS -

While the World Bank may have moved pos­i­tively to­wards re­duc­ing global poverty, less progress has been made in manag­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity. What are your views with re­spect to South Asia?

There's clearly a lack of aware­ness about the en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and its reper­cus­sions on fu­ture food se­cu­rity, health is­sues and, ul­ti­mately poverty re­duc­tion, across South Asia. The World Bank can play a key role in cre­at­ing nec­es­sary aware­ness amongst the masses and the gov­ern­ments through spe­cific "aware­ness pro­grams" on this sub­ject, and tak­ing se­ri­ously the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment im­prove­ment bench­marks linked to its pro­gram lend­ing. Food prices are ris­ing across South Asia. To what ex­tent to do you think weather and cli­mate changes are re­spon­si­ble for this?

Es­ca­la­tion in food prices is a phe­nom­e­non across the globe and is not merely re­lated to South Asia. These in­creases seem to be at­trib­ut­able to the ad­verse weather and cli­matic con­di­tions to an ex­tent and South Asia is no dif­fer­ent. While the im­pact on food prices may not be at­trib­ut­able sub­stan­tially to the cli­matic con­di­tions hith­erto, but if the re­quired mea­sures re­lated to en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity are not taken se­ri­ously, then surely that would lead to prices shoot­ing up at alarm­ing lev­els. The World Bank has said it is ready to help Pak­istan in its en­ergy cri­sis. How best can the coun­try take ad­van­tage of this?

This is a great of­fer which the gov­ern­ment must cap­i­tal­ize on, par­tic­u­larly in the ar­eas of tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and fi­nanc­ing of ower projects. The World Bank's global ex­per­tise can help the gov­ern­ment in learn­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the most

op­ti­mal en­ergy poli­cies and plans and ad­dress­ing the chronic is­sue of cir­cu­lar debt which is not some­thing unique in our con­text. Many emerg­ing mar­kets ex­pe­ri­enced it at one point or another and have been able to ad­dress it suc­cess­fully. The World Bank will be in the best po­si­tion to as­sist the gov­ern­ment in these ar­eas and en­able Pak­istan to have an ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient en­ergy sys­tem. The World Bank says Asian coun­tries can use fis­cal stim­uli to pro­tect their economies de­spite a global slow­down. What are your com­ments with ref­er­ence to South Asia?

It is not just a mat­ter of fis­cal dis­ci­pline. South Asian coun­tries need to un­der­take the much needed "struc­tural re­forms". Any fis­cal or mon­e­tary action could merely help in the short run. Un­til the nec­es­sary re­forms are not un­der­taken, any mea­sure on the fis­cal or mon­e­tary side will be ad hoc in na­ture and this could sail the econ­omy through the crises tem­po­rar­ily. It is about time that the most vi­able in­dige­nous struc­tural re­forms were de­vised and im­ple­mented re­li­giously in South Asia. There is no es­cape. The new Vice Pres­i­dent of the World Bank Group’s South Asia Re­gion, Mr. Philippe H. Le Houérou, has said he agrees with the Nawaz Sharif gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic plan and has ex­tended the Bank’s sup­port in im­ple­men­ta­tion of eco­nomic re­forms. Do you think this au­gurs well for Pak­istan?

Very well in­deed. How­ever, it's up to the gov­ern­ment to take the max­i­mum ad­van­tage of this of­fer and get the re­quired sup­port from the World Bank in the ar­eas of pol­i­cy­mak­ing, tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and fi­nanc­ing. To my mind, the of­fer of the World Bank should be most rel­e­vant in mak­ing vi­able poli­cies and ob­tain­ing tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance; the fund­ing bit must come last. The change in the se­quence of pri­or­i­ties may not bear the re­quired fruit. Za­far Ma­sud is Chair­man and CEO, Burj Cap­i­tal Pak­istan. Prior to this, he was a mem­ber of Bar­clays Emerg­ing Mar­kets Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee and the Re­gional Manag­ing Di­rec­tor for South­ern Africa at Bar­clays Bank plc. Za­far was the found­ing mem­ber of the Dubai Is­lamic Bank team in Pak­istan. He also serves on the Cen­tral Board of Direc­tors of the State Bank of Pak­istan as an In­de­pen­dent Di­rec­tor and as a Mem­ber of the SBP Board HR and In­vest­ment Com­mit­tees.

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