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Saturday June 22, 2024

Charter of economy

By Mansoor Ahmad
September 20, 2023

LAHORE: Everyone talks about a charter of economy including economists, politicians, businessmen, and trade bodies, but a stable and viable economic policy has remained elusive in Pakistan. Each considers policies that would benefit their own interest as the best charter.

Achieving a basic charter endorsed by all political forces to guarantee policy continuity and adherence to principles of free markets and transparency in a country with a history of frequent policy changes can be a challenging but worthwhile endeavour.

Rulers must initiate a national dialogue involving all political parties, business leaders, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders.

The goal must be to build consensus on the need for policy stability and economic principles. All stakeholders must think above self-interest and support transparency and fair

play.

After a broad-based agreement, the principles of policy continuity, free markets, and transparency should be incorporated into Pakistan’s constitution or key legal documents. This would provide a strong legal foundation for these principles.

The ruling elite would have to forgo its authority that should be transferred to an independent regulatory authority responsible for overseeing economic policies and ensuring adherence to established principles. This body should be insulated from political interference.

At the same time, robust mechanisms for transparency and accountability in government operations should be strictly implemented. This includes transparent budgeting processes, open procurement procedures, and mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on government activities.

Simultaneously, political leaders should be engaged in public awareness campaigns and education programmes about the benefits of policy stability and free markets. Encourage them to commit to the principles outlined in the charter.

The state should also seek support from international organisations and partners who can provide technical expertise and financial resources to help implement and monitor the charter's provisions.

Involve the public in the process by holding town hall meetings, soliciting public input on economic policies, and ensuring that their concerns and aspirations are addressed in the charter.

The state should establish mechanisms for resolving disputes between political parties and stakeholders regarding policy implementation and adherence to the charter. This could involve an independent mediator or arbitration process.

Effectiveness of the charter in ensuring policy continuity and adherence to free market principles must be reviewed and evaluated periodically, and adjusted based on the outcomes of these evaluations.

The state should encourage active involvement of civil society organisations, including think tanks and watchdog groups, in monitoring the government’s adherence to the charter and holding it accountable.

Awareness must be created about the long-term benefits of such a charter. In this regard an example of Bangladesh should be highlighted where economic policies remain the same irrespective of the party that assumes power.

India also started growing when its political parties stopped tinkering with policies instituted by the previous government.

The success of such a charter will depend on the political will of the ruling parties and their commitment to upholding the principles outlined. Political leaders will have to prioritise the country’s economic stability and growth over short-term political gains.

Achieving consensus on a basic charter for economic policy stability and adherence to free market principles may take time and effort, but it can significantly enhance investor confidence and contribute to sustainable economic growth in the long-term. It requires a collaborative and committed approach from all stakeholders involved.