Pol­i­tics must de­liver

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

dus of es­cap­ing cap­i­tal to other coun­tries that of­fer as­sured and af­ford­able in­puts. Ed­u­ca­tion, when tar­geted es­pe­cially, will feed in a knowl­edge­able and skilled work­force into the econ­omy to sus­tain it, es­pe­cially since the econ­omy is sure to change face as nations find their own niche in the global chain. Growth in an econ­omy is built around three fun­da­men­tal sec­tors – com­modi­ties, man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vices – that en­hance pro­duc­tion and add to the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) in an econ­omy. In Pak­istan’s case all three will need fo­cus and par­al­lel strate­gies to boost pro­duc­tion. Each though should have an en­abling pol­icy as­sis­tance that as­sures con­ti­nu­ity and en­hances the con­fi­dence of an in­vestor to act as a trig­ger in re­bound­ing econ­omy from its dis­mal state.

Im­ran Khan’s PTI on the other hand has ad­dressed the full do­main of the econ­omy while enun­ci­at­ing a pro­gramme sim­i­lar to any fi­nance min­is­ter’s state­ment to par­lia­ment. The PTI’s key facets to spur econ­omy will in­clude ed­u­ca­tion, health, gov­er­nance, rev­enue gen­er­a­tion and in­sti­tu­tional re­form. In its de­tailed ex­pla­na­tion it has in­cluded en­ergy and other im­per­a­tives too, but it re­mains a broad-based pol­icy state­ment. Per­haps in a dwin­dling econ­omy all that the PTI says will be im­por­tant to ad­dress, but where lies its fo­cus? That re­mains an ab­sent im­per­a­tive. Pak­istan’s eco­nomic man­age­ment has tended to re­volve around macroe­conomists mostly. Rev­enue, ex­pen­di­ture, cur­rent ac­counts and for­eign re­serves have mostly driven such man­age­ment, per­haps rel­e­vant to the thought process of the fi­nance gu­rus that have run the min­istry.

Line min­istries such as trade and com­merce, wa­ter and power, pe­tro­leum and nat­u­ral re­sources, and agri­cul­ture com­plete the eco­nomic mo­saic while headed by sep­a­rate min­is­ters. What has greatly been miss­ing is an in­te­grated, over­ar­ch­ing ap­proach of pri­ori­tis­ing one over the other with­out dis­count­ing ap­pro­pri­ate at­ten­tion for each, which could help re­boot a flag­ging econo- my with greater ro­bust­ness.

There is one ex­am­ple that even a di­rec­tion­less PPP gov­ern­ment will leave be­hind that will need to be em­u­lated or bet­tered, and that is at­ten­tion to agri­cul­ture as a pol­icy. We saw in­creased com­mod­ity prices in this sec­tor that spurred growth, though it did leave some con­se­quent com­plex­i­ties in in­fla­tion­ary trends and needed more lat­eral link­ages to other as­pects of the econ­omy be­fore it could be called a com­pre­hen­sive trig­ger to re­ju­ve­nate a sag­ging econ­omy.

Also, PPP’s in­no­va­tion in pol­icy be­gan and ended with this one step of rais­ing prices for agri­cul­ture prod­ucts to bol­ster the farmer. Be­yond this sin­gle fo­cus on agricul-

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