Wednesday June 19, 2024

PTI’s 100-day agenda

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
May 27, 2018

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” In other words, if you could achieve your aims by wishing for them, life would be very easy. Agenda is a list, plan, outline, or the like, of things to be done, matters to be acted upon. A plan is two things: an intention or decision about what one is going to do and a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.

A wish, on the other hand, is a desire or hope for something to happen. A daydream is a series of pleasant thoughts that distract one’s attention from the present. A pipe-dream is an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme . The PTI’s 100-day agenda is less of an agenda and more of a wish. It is less of an agenda, more like a daydream. It is less of an agenda, more like a pipe-dream.

The PTI’s ‘roadmap to economic growth’ has 10 agenda items in it. Agenda item number 1: Unveil Pakistan’s most ambitious job creation strategy to create 10 million jobs. A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve an aim. Yes, the PTI has a wish. But where’s the strategy? Where’s the plan of action?

Agenda item number 2: Revive manufacturing…..bring energy prices in alignment with regional competitors, clear the backlog of refunds. The PTI knows that the government of Pakistan has an unconditional agreement with the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power to pay a tariff of Rs18.0397/kWh (years 1-10). The PTI must know that the tariff at Rewa Solar Park in Madhya Pradesh is Rs5.19/kWh. What is the PTI’s strategy to bring energy prices in alignment with regional competitors?’ How? Where’s the strategy? What’s the plan of action? The PTI knows that the backlog of refunds is Rs300 billion or so. How is it going to clear the backlog? What’s the strategy? What’s the source of funds?

Agenda item number 3: Launch a policy framework to build five million houses. Fantastic. Did the PTI calculate the price tag? Rs10 trillion (10 followed by twelve zeros). Yes, the PTI ‘hopes’ to do it through the private-sector. Does it know that the total credit to the entire private-sector is Rs5 trillion?

Agenda item number 4: “Boost the tourism industry”. Good intention. Currently, around a million foreign tourists visit Pakistan and contribute a paltry $300 million a year. How to boost? What’s the strategy? Agenda item number 5; Reform the tax administration. Superb. But how? The PTI’s answer: ‘By appointing a bold, capable and dynamic FBR chairman,’ That is not a strategy. It is too simple a proposition for a complex riddle.

Agenda item number 6: “Make Pakistan business friendly.” Easier said than done. Here are the problems: getting electricity; paying taxes; registering property; enforcing contracts; trading across borders; getting credit and protecting minority investors. What’s the PTI’s strategy? How? What’s the plan of action?

Agenda item number 7: Transform key institutions. Well, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa owns and operates at least 16 entities including the Peshawar Development Authority, Sarhad Minerals, Cold Storage and Ice Plant, Export Processing Zone Risalpur and Malakand Chromite. How have these entities changed over the past five years?

Agenda item number 8: Fix Pakistan’s energy challenge. This is not much different from agenda item number 2. Agenda item number 9: Ensure CPEC translates into a game-changer. Good luck with that one. The forces that can change Pakistan are within Pakistan – not in China. Agenda item number 10: Enhance access to finance for citizens and industry. I hope that the PTI knows that Pakistani households spend 41.4 percent of their expenditures on food (Americans spend a meagre 6.5 percent on food). So, the critical issue here is how to increase disposable income and that would result in higher national savings.

The credit that cannot be denied to the PTI is its steadfast anti-corruption agenda. And that agenda is a Rs2 trillion ray of hope. The PTI’s anti-corruption agenda on its own can put at least Rs70,000 back into the pockets of each Pakistani family every year.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: Twitter: @saleemfarrukh