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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Capital suggestion: Measures v policy

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
September 24, 2023

Administrative measures are actions, steps, or decisions taken by government officials or administrative bodies to address immediate issues. Administrative measures are typically aimed at managing day-to-day affairs, ensuring compliance with existing laws and regulations, and responding to immediate challenges or situations. Administrative measures are often ad hoc in nature.

Policy, on the other hand, is a broader and more comprehensive framework that outlines the government's goals, objectives, strategies, and principles for addressing specific issues or achieving desired outcomes. Policies are developed through a systematic process and involve extensive research and analysis. They provide a strategic direction for government actions and guide decision-making across various government departments and agencies.

In recent weeks, we have observed a decisive crackdown on smugglers, currency speculators, and formidable mafias. These actions were imperative to tackle pressing issues. The government's unwavering commitment to implementing short-term measures has started to yield encouraging outcomes, notably in bolstering the value of the rupee and price controls.

However, do we possess a well-defined strategic direction? Is there a cohesive, long-term strategy in place that effectively tackles the underlying causes of our issues? It appears that a comprehensive policy formulation is conspicuously absent. The lack of a clearly defined policy framework implies a more reactive stance rather than a proactive one. The formulation of sound policies is paramount in systematically addressing economic challenges and preventing their recurrence.

Without a strategic vision, these measures risk being isolated actions without a broader context. A strategic direction is necessary to align efforts with long-term economic and security objectives. While immediate actions will curb illegal activities, they will not address the root economic problems.

Do we have a strategic plan in place to address the Rs2 trillion in 'leakages' within the Rs10 trillion public procurement system? Do we possess a well-defined policy aimed at mitigating the Rs7,500 billion budget deficit? Have we formulated a comprehensive strategy to tackle the Rs2,700 billion circular debt within the gas sector? Is there a clear and coherent strategic direction to manage the Rs2,300 billion circular debt in the electricity sector? Have we devised a robust and all-encompassing plan to handle the Rs2,328 billion debt incurred by Public Sector Enterprises? Do we have a clearly articulated policy for addressing the Rs904 billion debt related to commodity operations? What is our strategic approach for managing the Rs750 billion debt of PIA?

A comprehensive economic policy will promote legal and transparent economic activities, reducing the incentives for illegal practices. Powerful mafias with political connections and significant resources may continue to operate even in the face of short-term crackdowns. A strategic approach should consider political and financial dynamics to ensure lasting change.

In conclusion, the government's efforts against smugglers and currency speculators are important steps to tackle immediate issues. However, these actions should not serve as a substitute for a well-crafted policy formulation and a clear strategic direction. To ensure long-term economic stability and security, Pakistan needs a comprehensive approach that addresses root causes and provides a roadmap for the future. It's time to move beyond short-term measures and lay the groundwork for lasting change.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. He tweets/posts @saleemfarrukh and can be reached at: farrukh15@hotmail.com