WASHINGTON - Pakistan's economy has suffered as a result of the previous government's reckless borrowing , failure to control inflation, now running at 9.5 percent, and misbudgeting, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said. "We have not been handed over a clean slate," he said while addressing a gathering of Americans and Pakistanis at the Pakistan Embassy on Saturday. The last government's failure to make necessary and obvious economic corrections in order to stabilize a serious situation remained unexplained, Dar said, "But that is past history, and we are going to move on." He said the coalition government would make every effort to cut the budget deficit and reduce government borrowing from the State Bank -- the previous government had borrowed Rs. 422 billion over and above the laid-down limit of Rs. 80 billion. POINTED QUESTION During question hour, a veteran journalist asked the State Bank Governor, who is accompanying the finance minister for the spring World Bank-IMF meetings, to explain why show she allowed such "reckless borrowing". The finance minister invited her to answer the question, but she when she hesitated, Dar said the Governor had tried several times to make the government not resort to such borrowing, which had impacted the country's financial stability, but without success. "Short of dishonouring government cheques, what could she do?" "She could have resigned," the journalist said. While the minister shrugged his shoulders, Dr Akhtar looked away. "Next question please," Dar finally said. In his speech, Dar referred to spiralling prices but added that the world prices of oil and wheat had risen steeply, developments over which the government could not have had any control. He said it was not his intention to play the blame game but the basic facts as he had found them had to be placed on record so as to enable people to judge the performance of the present government in a year's time. That was why he had issued a "balance sheet" of the economy days after taking over the finance ministry. The finance minister said several mistakes and miscalculations had been made. Wheat was exported at a price of $200 a ton and then imported for $470 a ton, a misjudgment that would cost the country $750 million. International debt payments had been understated and underbudgeted. The resulting deficit now running at 9.5 percent from 4 percent was something the country had to grapple with. He said the previous government had shared crucial economic information with the nation to a limited extent only. There just had not been enough transparency, something, he promised the new government was committing itself to. He said there is need for Pakistan to go into more sustainable areas of growth, because the growth path chosen in the past was not sustainable. "We have to go back to agriculture," he added. The finance minister said strong safety nets for the poor would be built, in contrast with what the earlier government had done by providing such safety nets not for those most in need but for the rich. He promised progressive taxation with those with higher earnings paying more than those lower down the income scale. He said the country needs "vigorous financial discipline". Reform was needed and one reform was going to be the conversion of the Federal Bureau of Statistics into an autonomous agency so that its figures could be considered credible. He regretted that in the last eight years not even one MW of power had been installed, which was one reason there were serious energy shortages today. He said Pakistan is short of at least 4,000 MW. Dar said, "We are working to reduce fiscal deficit, reduce government borrowing from the central bank and correct other macro economic indicators - we have already started damage controlling the situation, including curbing the inflation and want to achieve maximum targets before the closing of this financial year. We are hopeful that we will reverse the negative trend and have a year of consolidation next year." The finance minister invited expatriate Pakistanis to invest in the energy sector, which he added, was most profitable. He said the government is going to look into the possibility of augmenting nuclear power generation. He assured foreign entrepreneurs that their investment would be protected and foreign direct investment policies introduced in the 1990s would remain in place. "There will be no reversals, no derailment - we will go for consistency and improvement," he stressed.