Monday December 11, 2023

Pakistan, IMF playing games with each other: experts

March 16, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The IMF cannot provide a solution to Pakistan’s economy because both sides are playing games with each other. There is a need to abolish the development program for 20 years as no funding is available for research and development. There is also a need to cut down expenditures including the defence budget by 15 percent, it was the crux of the discussions by distinguished economists, technocrats, policymakers and analysts here at a seminar titled “Building Consensus on Pakistan’s Economic Future”, organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) here at its office on Wednesday.

“There is a need to devise rules of the games whereby the term of the government should be reduced from five years to three years. There should be a limited number of elected ministers and other cabinet members should be appointed outside of the parliament. The number of cabinet ministers must also be reduced,” Vice-Chancellor, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Dr Nadeem Ul Haque, said.

Dr. Ishrat Hussain, former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Zubair Ahmed, CEO of the OI Watwer Company Pvt Ltd, Dr. Shahida Wizarat, Dean of the Institute of Business Administration, and Dr. Nadeem ul Haque, Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, spoke at length as to how the economic indicators are performing, and what ails the economy as well as the threat and reality of default. Alina Shigri, anchorperson and broadcast journalist, conducted the proceedings.

They focused on the policy parameters of the economy, and how lack of consistency and instability, coupled with inefficiency and ad-hocism, had rendered it in the bad shape that it is in today.

The second session was addressed by Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director of SDPI, Adnan Younis Lodhi, Policy Advisor TC-GRASP, Ali Salman, Executive Director of PRIME Institute, and Khurram Hussain, senior journalist and columnist Dawn.

While dilating whether there is a consensus on the fundamental of reforms in the economy, Dr Ishrat Hussain observed that during the entire 15 structural reforms that Pakistan economy had seen through, it has been noted that there is complete consensus on reshaping the economy and driving it towards a growth-based economy.

The salient features spelt out were: Pakistan needs high growth rate, poverty is in need of being reduced to a meaningful level as that of China and East Asian economies, 1.5 million jobs are to be created to address the youth bulge in the market of whom 60 per cent are 15 years and above, need for investing in education and health and bringing around a robust social security net.

It was confirmed that Pakistan has a highly debt-indebted economy and it is in need of being reduced drastically, if it has to stay afloat. Likewise, while agriculture is the cornerstone of economy but its productivity in GDP and tax base is negligent. It was stated that the manufacturing sector pays 60 percent of taxes despite being short of agriculture pie.

Pakistan instantly must address the balance of payment problem, as it is primarily owing to lack of foreign exchange cash flows. For this, enhancing exports is a must, and it is high time the economy is modeled on export-driven premise, rather than incentivising imports.