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June 22, 2019

Streamlining development


June 22, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a new body, the National Development Council, the main responsibilities of which will be to devise policies and strategies for development and to help achieve accelerated economic growth. The NDC will be chaired by PM Khan and includes key ministers involved with finance and economic affairs, including the Finance Advisor to the PM. It also includes the foreign minister, presumably on the basis that among the mandated roles of the body is to work towards long-term regional connectivity and cooperation. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa is also a member, ensuring smooth communications between the civil and military wings of the country. While the military chiefs are already a part of the National Security Council, as should be the case, the inclusion in economic planning lays down a broader platform for cooperation.

One of the questions that arise is whether a new body was needed given that grouping such as Ecnec, the Economic Advisory Council, the NSC and others already exist to offer specialised help to the government on specific issues. There is also the question of whether having a large number of bodies that run parallel to the federal cabinet are beneficial. It is true we need expert help and cooperation between all stakeholders to rescue a fragile economy. But at the same time, it is essential that the government function with a clear sense of direction and without a sense of confusion or uncertainty. When multiple bodies exist there is always the danger that contradictions and overlaps will be created.

It is however up to the prime minister and his team to work this out. The issues to be taken up by the NDC are immensely important ones. If development goals are to be achieved and economic resurrection created, we need as many persons as possible working towards this goal. The inclusion of provincial chief ministers and secretaries as part of the body will also ensure smoother functioning and a better understanding of the problems, encouraging useful suggestions to solve them. We assume the Economic Advisory Council set up soon after PM Imran Khan assumed power will feed into the NDC and vice versa. Most important of all is the need for people, some of whom have been plunged into something resembling hopelessness due to the financial pressures they face in a time of high inflation, to see achievements being made rather than to read about bodies which will assist in this. We hope the NDC can play a useful part in achieving the goals set out for it, and demonstrate that we can indeed overcome hard economic times and move towards a more prosperous future for us all.

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