Thursday May 23, 2024

Experts urge inclusive economic reforms implementation

By Afshan S. Khan
February 18, 2024

Islamabad : An inclusive political economy shall be the top priority of the Pakistan government without any political fiddling by any of the stakeholders. Politicians shall sit in the parliament to do the legislation and ensure its implementation in letter and spirit.

Representational image of a economic growth. — APP File
Representational image of a economic growth. — APP File

Whatever party comes into power shall limit the federal ministries count to ten. The ministers shall pass on the vision and mandate to the teams of the technocrats as they know their job well. The performance of the governments world over depends on the technocrats based on ‘right person for the right job’. The IMF is not a villain but a fiscal regulator. We need to listen to their proposed measures and take them accordingly. All the political parties and other stakeholders shall come together to handle the budget deficit, increase tax base, to get rid of the subsidies and reduce the state expenses. Shrinking the bureaucracy and implementation of civil service reforms is a must to reduce burden on the national exchequer. The sluggishness and red-tapism are the hallmark of Pakistan’s bureaucracy. The other one is the politics of agitation that shall come to an end. Public at large shall say no to such protests that are carried out for the vested interests of the political figures.

The webinar on the subject “The Prospects of Charter of Economy for the new government and the new IMF deal” was organized by the Devcom-Pakistan (Development Communications Network) and DTN.

The keynote speakers included former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of Pakistan and Vice Chancellor Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Dr. Nadeem ul Haq, and the former Senior Economist at US Treasury Department’s Office of Economic Policy.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed, political activist Amina Sadaf, Anoosha Iftikhar, Ateeqa Mazhar and Esha Bashir. Dr. Nasir Khilji said Pakistan is a victim of generosity of friends such as the USA, China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar.

Their support has been misunderstood and misused in Pakistan. The country has also been a victim of vested interest of leadership across the board where, in many cases, the integrity lacked and reigned over the motivated objectives. Pakistan is a library of recommendations but no implementation of any proposed frameworks.

Dr. Khilji said All the stakeholders of the country have to take the responsibility of inclusive economic reforms and their true implementation. The reforms shall include a comprehensive strategy to handle the budget deficit and reduce the non-productive and operational costs. Pakistan has to broaden its tax, wipe off subsidies and reduce the financial burden of bureaucracy that produces hurdles only. Some major surgery is required for Pakistan’s entire financial management and governance system. It is not possible without having all the stakeholders on the same page. They have to come on the same page if they care about 250 million people.

Dr. Nadeem ul Haq said: Pakistan is facing the brunt of political immaturity, inefficient governance system, bureaucratic negligence and stagnancy. Public expenses are huge for no output. The economic crisis cannot be addressed without addressing the cartel of banks, stock market malpractices, and the absence of technocrats in the governance decision-making. There is a crisis of social contract and distrust among the politicians and other stakeholders. Pakistan’s economic issues cannot be resolved without a larger consensus on an economic framework. This will not be done by the politicians alone.

Dr Haq said we need to talk about the foundation issues for a larger national interest. Transparent and inclusive deregulation and an open market policy perhaps would help a lot to attract domestic and foreign investment in the soaring infrastructure. He urged to abolish 40 federal ministries which are no longer needed after the 18th amendment, and to limit the federal cabinet to only 10 ministers. Parliamentarians shall work in the house on legislation, and let the relevant technocrats to design and implement the development agenda with the minimalist bureaucratic system. Pakistan cannot overrule the IMF observations and recommendations.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed urged the need of civil society observers in the political governance as a watchdog. They should have a role of oversight on the performance of the governance system, and their suggestions and recommendations shall be incorporated into the implementation of policy frameworks.