Agenda for the Fu­ture

Enterprise - - Editor’s desk -

Now that the na­tional bud­get for 201112 has been an­nounced, what does it au­gur for the Pak­istani econ­omy? While 2010 may have been one of the worst years in Pak­istan’s eco­nomic his­tory ow­ing to the su­per floods and poor eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, it seems as if 2011 will be no bet­ter. The suf­fer­ings of the com­mon man con­tinue to in­crease while his in­come dwin­dles. With a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of some 180 mil­lion, this means that 70 mil­lion Pak­ista­nis have al­ready slid be­low the poverty line.

Add to this the fact that the na­tional econ­omy is not ac­cel­er­at­ing and there are se­ri­ous ap­pre­hen­sions about for­eign as­sis­tance be­ing avail­able as gen­er­ously as it was ear­lier. This has led the gov­ern­ment to bor­row more money from the State Bank as well as the open mar­ket, fur­ther con­tribut­ing to gal­lop­ing in­fla­tion, less in­vest­ments and slow eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties. The only de­vel­op­ment that lends hope to the gloomy sce­nario is the growth in tex­tile ex­ports as a re­sult of the EU and USA pledg­ing spe­cial ac­cess to Pak­istani goods and the over­all ex­port per­for­mance that has hit a record $24 bil­lion this year.

Ex­perts agree that Pak­istan’s econ­omy can get a real kick start by gen­er­at­ing rev­enues through of­fload­ing some of the white ele­phants that the gov­ern­ment is bur­dened with, such as PIA, PSO, Pak­istan Steel Mills, Pak­istan Rail­ways and WAPDA. The gov­ern­ment has been bor­row­ing ex­ces­sively in the pre­vi­ous years to sus­tain these en­ti­ties and things have only gone from bad to worse. Ev­ery po­lit­i­cal gov­ern­ment has used these or­ga­ni­za­tions to em­ploy party work­ers that has added to the eco­nomic woes of these gi­ant and in­creas­ingly in­ef­fi­cient out­fits.

One key area the gov­ern­ment re­ally needs to put its mind to is the en­ergy sec­tor which cur­rently suffers from a mas­sive cir­cu­lar debt, a syn­drome that needs im­me­di­ate and de­ci­sive ac­tion so that idle ca­pac­ity of ex­ist­ing power units can be uti­lized to run the in­dus­try and to push eco­nomic and pub­lic life for­ward. Pak­istan’s com­pe­tent eco­nomic man­agers need to draw up an in­te­grated pol­icy that en­cour­ages greater in­vest­ment in key sec­tors, lead­ing to in­fra­struc­ture build­ing. A wellthought out and sound pol­icy should also take into ac­count the agri­cul­ture sec­tor and en­sure that the farmer is ap­pro­pri­ately com­pen­sated for his pro­duce. Cot­ton and cot­ton-based tex­tiles, rice, wheat and sug­ar­cane along with their down­stream in­dus­tries need to be ap­pro­pri­ately sup­ported through such a pol­icy.

In the present poor eco­nomic con­di­tions that Pak­istan finds it­self in, it is also im­por­tant that all in­com­ing aid, grants, loans be di­rected to­wards de­vel­op­ing projects that have a strate­gic im­por­tance for the coun­try, such as dams, ther­mal power projects, agri­cul­ture de­vel­op­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and health. At the end of the day it is both sound think­ing and hon­est im­ple­men­ta­tion of eco­nomic poli­cies that can save Pak­istan from be­ing rel­e­gated to the cat­e­gory of failed states

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