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June 13, 2019

Futile plan

Newspost

 
June 13, 2019

This refers to the editorial ‘Another five-year plan’ (June 11). The editorial offers little critical analysis as specifics are missing. From a holistic point of view, the five-year plan does not provide a clear road map to increase exports to $35 billion as the sector has been consistently underperforming. Likewise, containing imports to $65 billion is unrealistic in the absence of laying down specific measures to compress imports. Focus on current account deficit, the mother of all economic ills, is conspicuous by its absence. Revisiting the flawed Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTA) signed with countries does not feature in the plan. These are responsible for the ballooning trade deficit.

With a free-for-all import policy being followed, there is no way that import compression can be achieved. Further, the volatility in oil prices can easily disrupt the projections. The government appears evasive in capping import of luxury and non-essential consumer goods, including those being produced locally. Such items comprise a considerable chunk of the import bill and serve the small affluent class. How accelerated industrialization and assimilation of newer technology can be achieved has not been addressed. Establishment of manufacturing hubs require institutional support but the plan is silent. Relying on China for creating manufacturing hubs in Pakistan is a misplaced assumption. China can only assist but cannot replace our own initiative and passion. The whole exercise, in hindsight, has been futile. It is a shoddy piece of work prepared in haste and fails to offer out-of-the-box solution to the economic challenges.

Arif Majeed

Karachi

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