NationalVolume 14 Issue # 04

A turnaround the need of the hour

The challenges facing the new PTI government are enormous. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address to the nation, highlighted the state of the national economy, especially the national external debt amounting to US $ 95 billion. The current account deficit has widened to US $ 18 billion rising from $ 12.6 billion from last fiscal year. External debt servicing too has become a serious problem. Likewise, the circular debt has reached around 1-2 trillion rupees.

All this calls for fast-track, out-of-the-box solutions for the national economy. An immediate need is to set up a non-bureaucratic task force comprising independent experts to meet the daunting challenges ahead. An immediate solution is to solicit Overseas Pakistanis’ cooperation in an effective manner. To this end, Special Investment bonds may be issued for Overseas Pakistanis with targets of sale allocated to Pakistan embassies.  Another short term redeeming measure is to cut unnecessary imports to contain the rising trade deficit.

The need of the hour is to put the national economy on a high economic growth path in real terms based on an actual and advanced productivity trajectory in each sector of the national economy. The problems need to be tackled through massive reforms, coupled with short term and long term action plans free of “babu culture” and with a strong political will at the top to implement them. This alone can generate real wealth for the national economy to pay off the current public debt liabilities in a few years and make Pakistan economically self-reliant in the near future.

No policy or reforms package can be implemented with effective results without cutting bureaucratic red-tape. Our bureaucracy is corrupt to the core, that eats away the effects of all good policies and plans. Bangladesh, on independence, drastically changed the old complex procedures breeding red-tapism and corruption. Services reforms based on results, achievements and market orientation, are needed to meet the challenges of public welfare, accountability and freedom from corruption. About 40 percent of the budget is wasted through red-tapism, delayed and costs escalated projects and corruption. This needs drastic reforms.

Agricultural and industrial productivity is the most vital need to add real national wealth. Fast track GDP growth strategies and implementation plans are the sine qua non to high growth targets achievements. In this connection, the roles of agricultural and industrial productivity indices are very vital. Presently, these parameters are very low in our national economy. This requires necessary reforms package and pragmatic policies to enhance productivity levels in agriculture and industry. The present National Productivity Organisation needs to be overhauled, strengthened and reorganised professionally. Cost of production needs to be cut through modern technologies. Innovation and technology up-gradation are needed, based on international models. Research and development plays a massive role in boosting industrial and agricultural productivity

Aggressive industrialisation policies are needed to be launched in the SME sectors and large industries focusing on exports orientation. This alone would help achieve high growth targets. It would be advisable to set up public sector companies to ensure timely implementation of industrialisation programs based on simplified procedures and updated methodologies.

Corruption eats away a sizeable chunk of our national resources and adversely affects public welfare policies through red-tapism. It can be checked through reforms and by using intelligence agencies as well. An honest and good political leadership, efficient accountability framework and an effective parliamentary system alone can minimise corruption.

Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy. On the basis of consultation with all stake holders and agricultural experts, comprehensive agriculture reforms policies need to be introduced with the following objectives: to achieve higher per acre yields, to improve quality of agricultural products, to boost exports, to introduce new crops, farmer empowerment and training, and to strengthen the Agriculture Extension Programs so that they reach the farmers effectively.

Nations gripped by economic crises have to adopt austerity and economical ways to cut wasteful and luxuriant expenses in government and public sector organisations. The number of ministries needs to be cut and reduced to the minimum. International models of developed democracies need to be followed.

Technology advancements are fast modifying the public sector, industrial and agricultural methodologies worldwide. Information and communication technologies are playing a pivotal role. Resultantly, higher efficiencies, costs reduction and value addition in operations are being achieved. In Pakistan also, updated technologies, new organisation and management methods and global standards need to be introduced to achieve higher national growth in each sector of national economy. Our research and development organisations have so far failed to achieve market-driven results in the absence of public private partnership.

A high literacy rate and good quality education is the key to long term growth and a strong economy. Enhanced economic resources and allocations for education can help boost literacy rates. All economically self-reliant nations in the world today have high literacy rates.

Pakistan’sexports levels have been going down. To arrest the decline, the focus should be more on value-added exports, especially engineering goods and machinery which have high export potential. At the same time, new markets for enhancing exports need to be explored. Experts are of the opinion that with good planning and constant efforts, Pakistan can achieve an export target of 50 billion dollars per year in a short time.