LAHORE: The PML-N government’s performance has been below par on the economic front, marginally better on energy security and satisfactory on social protection, according to an evaluation carried out by the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy and funded by the Centre for International Private Enterprise.
The purpose of the study, which evaluates the government’s first six months in power, is to keep the public informed about the performance of the incumbent government periodically during its tenure and keep the ruling party accountable and force it to enhance its performance during rest of its tenure.
The report is based on official statistics and media reports on economic revival, energy security and social protection. Each target area has been assessed on a score of 0-10 and divided into sub-sectors for evaluation of promises made by the PML-N government in its election manifesto.
On the economic front, PML-N’s manifesto stated that the budget deficit would be brought down to 4 percent of the GDP while it was 8 percent on June 10, 2013 and currently stands at 8.8 percent of the GDP. No legislative or institutional steps have been taken in this regard so the score on this count was zero.
PML-N also promised to keep inflation in the range of 7-8 percent but inflation was 5.9 percent on June 10 and 9.1 percent in October 2013.
Further, the ruling party also promised to limit government borrowing which stood at Rs345 billion in the first quarter of 2012 but increased to Rs549 billion in first quarter of 2013. The score in this target area was also zero. The PML-N also pledged to decrease taxes in its manifesto but increased GST and reduced income tax. It also promised to lower interest rates through effective monetary policy but instead interest rates increased from 9.5 percent to 10 percent.
The government also pledged to increase industrial manufacturing by 7-8 percent. Large scale manufacturing registered a growth of 5.43 percent and GSP Plus status promises a further boost, the report noted. The score on this count was 8 out of 10.
The manifesto promised that all exports would be free of sales tax. Legislation has only been initiated in this regard. The government promised to levy regulatory duties on non-essential imports. The government imposed 30 percent excise duty on SUVs – earning a score of 6. Overall score on economic revival was 3.17 out of 10. The PML-N also promised to ensure completion of privatisation process within the assigned time framework. Policy directions in this regard have been given, earning the government a score of 5 on this front.
The government pledged to transform PIA into a profitable organisation.
Some measures in this regard have been taken and besides minor legislation, a few implementation steps have also been taken – earning the government 3 points on this count.
On energy security, the PML-N promised creation of Minister of Energy and Natural Resources through merger of Ministries of Water Power and Petroleum and Natural Resources. It has done nothing done in this regard. It also promised to reduce transmission and distribution losses to below 10 percent. The losses increased from 15.92 percent in 2011-12 to 23 percent in 2013. The PML-N promised that it would be ensured that 100 percent of the electricity bills are collected.
The collection percentage in June 13 was 18 percent but some legislation has moved forward in this regard. On its promise to eliminate power subsidies, the current government regime has shown its commitment to resolve this issue. On the elimination of circular debt, the government earned a score of 5.7 as circular debt has again surfaced.
The blanket ban on new CNG stations earned the government 10 points. On energy security, the government had an overall score of 4.16. On social protection, the PML-N raised the amount of Benazir Income Support Program from Rs58 billion to Rs75 billion – earning 6 points under this head.