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  Middle East & Africa
Date Set for Meeting on Pakistan Financial Crisis
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah(right) meets the press on Oct. 30 at the Emirates Palace with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Potential donors to Pakistan will meet in Abu Dhabi on November 17 to discuss urgent help in a financial crisis that has left the country needing billions of dollars in loans, the UAE foreign minister said on Oct. 30.

"It is an important conference," UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said , during a joint news briefing with his visiting German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"It will be important for the Friends group to act quickly to shield Pakistan from the worsening impact of the financial crisis," he said through a translator, referring to the "Friends of Pakistan" group launched in New York last month.

Pakistan is facing a balance-of-payments crisis and has just a few weeks to raise billions of dollars in foreign loans needed to meet debt payments and pay for imports.

Steinmeier, whose tour has already taken him to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, welcomed progress towards new talks on Pakistan, which German diplomatic sources said would take place at the level of senior officials.

Germany and the UAE are members of the "Friends of Pakistan" group. Saudi Arabia confirmed on Tuesday that it would also attend the meeting in Abu Dhabi next month.

Steinmeier this week urged Pakistan to seek the help of the International Monetary Fund to tackle its financial woes and said Germany would be ready to help negotiate a deal.

Islamabad's seven-month-old government, running Pakistan after more than eight years under former army chief Pervez Musharraf, has been reluctant to go the IMF but has been looking for help from friendly governments.

Donors caught up with their own problems brought on by the global financial crisis apparently prefer to wait for IMF involvement, which would bring discipline by attaching conditions and targets, analysts say.

Pakistan has been in talks with the IMF in Dubai since last week but has yet to decide if it will seek extra IMF aid

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks on Oct. 30 at the Emirates Palace with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier over latest regional and international developments. The German minister is visiting the UAE as part of a regional tour.

As he welcomed his German counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the flourishing bilateral cooperation between the friendly countries.

The two ministers also explored mechanisms of boosting bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation particularly in areas of economy, culture, investment, education and technology.

In the meantime, Hani Al Hamili, Secretary-General of the Dubai Economic Council (DEC) said on Oct. 30 that the global liquidity crunch and financial market turmoil will not deter the UAE from implementing and delivering all announced projects on time because authorities have a back-up financing plan, says

"Even if the global credit situation worsens and the meltdown continues indefinitely, our government has its own source of finance to fall back on," Al Hamili said on the sidelines of a conference on value added tax this week.

Hamili told Khaleej Times that the economic council would, next week, present to the Dubai government a comprehensive action plan to address the short-term and long-term economic challenges against the backdrop of the global economic contraction.

Dubai Economic Council advises the Government of Dubai on forward-looking economic strategies, advocates sound policies that promote business environment, productivity and investment climate, and enhances Dubai's competitiveness in the world economy.

He said the UAE government and monetary authorities had already acted proactively to address the liquidity crunch with a Dh120-billion programme to shore up the country's financial system.

He said the UAE authorities were ready to make available more funds, if necessary, to ensure that the cash crunch would not hamper development projects and derail the economic growth momentum.

"All recent measures taken by the government, including a growth-oriented budget with a 21% increase in allocation, are positive enough to assure residents and investors that everything is normal and the liquidity situation is well under control," Hamili stressed.

The country's Dh 42.2-billion budget for 2009 was approved by the Federal Cabinet on October 21.

"The current credit squeeze and the bleak global recessionary trend came as no big surprise. We had anticipated a scenario such as this and put in place a plan to ensure that our ongoing projects would remain unaffected," he pointed out.

"The UAE is not only a regional business hub, but also a global destination for Foreign Direct Investments. It has enhanced its position as one of the leading competitive economies in the world after it moved up six positions to 31st place in the Global Competitiveness Report 2008-09. The report reflects the strength of the UAE economy and its ability to compete internationally. Our government's goal is to position the country among the top 10 advanced economies of the world," he said.

The UAE is also ranked 16th out of 52 countries in the World Economic Forum's inaugural Financial Development Index. The country topped the Middle East region in the list which was headed by the US, followed by the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada and France. (Agencies)




 

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