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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.


Published Date: May 3, 2017

COMSATS Pre-Budget seminar on State of the Economy & Federal Budget 2017-18 at EE Auditorium CIIT, Islamabad

 A Preliminary Report

A one day Pre-Budget Seminar on “State of the Economy & Federal Budget 2017-18” was organized on April 25, 2017 by Centre for Policy Studies, EE Auditorium, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad. The objective of the seminar was to evaluate the state of the economy and suggest policy recommendations for the federal budget 2017-18 which would be helpful in setting policy direction to improve the performance of the economy. Around 130 participants from academia, civil society and government attended the seminar.

The seminar brought country’s leading economists and experts who spoke about their views and presented their analysis. The pre-budget seminar was the third such event in a row organized by CPS, which focused on state of economy, public debt, microfinance, employment, population, energy sector, export promotion, institutional reforms and tax policy challenges.

Welcome address was given by Amb. Fauzia Nasreen, Head, CPS, CIITwhile the seminar was inaugurated byMr. Qaiser Ahmad Shaikh, Chairman, National Assembly Standing Committee onFinance, Revenue, Statistics and Privatization who was the chief guest at this occasion. The speakers included, Dr. Hafiz Pasha, Mr. Shahid Hafeez Kardar, Dr. Ashfaque Hassan Khan, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Syed Sardar Ali, Dr. Asghar Zaidi, Mr. Ali Shan Azhar, Mr. Sakib Sherani, Dr. Ather Maqsood Ahmed. The CPEC panelists included Syed Hassan Javed, Prof. Dr. Usman Mustafa and Dr. Aneel Salman. Dr. Javed Ashraf and Mr. Mustafa Hyder participated as chairs.

Inaugural Session

Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, Head, CPS welcomed all of the people participating in the Pre-Budget Seminar on “State of the Economy and Federal Budget”. She spoke about the number of challenges confronted by Pakistan, and said, the economy occupies a central position within the Government’s overall policy framework. The budget has a pivotal role in giving direction to the economy which determines the priorities that any government sets for itself. Keeping in view the significance of the economy and the budget and its relevance for the faculty and students of management sciences and business administration, they are also invited from Islamabad, Wah and Attock campues to attend this seminar. The faculty and students from Lahore, Vehari and Sahiwal campuses are attending this seminar through video conference links. Today’s seminar has immense academic value by creating a productive debate involving all the stake holders and most importantly the government representatives and leading economists and experts on the subject. The objective is to present a comprehensive picture on various aspects related to the budget making and preparation.

The chief guest, Mr. Qaisar Ahmad Shaikh, Chairman, National Assembly on Finance, Revenue, Statistics and Privatization said in his inaugural address that CIIT is a reputed institution that has organized this seminar. He lamented that Standing Committee forum is very important forum but no importance is given to this forum and most of the budget is formed by the FBR. We have abolished most of the SROs and this is a big achievement of the government.

Mr. Shaikh added that we have imposed 0.4% tax on banking transaction for non-filers while exempted filers which is an incentive to non-filers to become filer. Pakistan tax to GDP ratio at 10% is very low compared with India at 16%. If we broaden tax net, our revenue can be increased to Rs5000 billion. This year our tax revenue target is Rs3600 billion, even if we missed this target by Rs200 billion, this will be a big achievement from Rs1950 billion at the start of our tenure. Our foreign exchange reserves substantially increased, inflation went down from 8% to less than 3%, the last year GDP growth of 4.7% was the highest since last 8 years. This year we will try to achieve 5%. He admitted that we remained unable to provide proper jobs to our youngsters.

Pakistan with population of 200 million will have to develop much faster. We have number of problems especially law and order especially in Karachi which is the hub of economy. The situation has yet been improved. We have a tough time to develop next year budget especially in setting a low fiscal deficit target. Most of the countries have devalued their currencies but we have not done it due to which our exports have been declining. Last year it declined by 2.7% and this year it will also decline.

We have not given importance to value added sector. China did not had cars 50 years ago and all of the Chinese used to fly in PIA. China has become a big economic giant but we could not get benefit from the growth of China whereas other countries have gained. We have Free Trade Agreement with China but we are not benefiting from it while China has benefited.

For the coming budget, we have identified the problems and questions but we need to find a solution. If we reduced the sales tax then where would funds come from? What should be the deficit of budget? Should we continue the remittance policy of asking no question? How can we increase tax to GDP ratio? CPS has timely organized this important seminar before the coming budget. The chief guest thanked the CPS and CIIT and said that it is a very prestigious institution. We want to accommodate the ideas in the next federal budget that this seminar will generate today.

At the end of session, Dr. Talat Anwar, Advisor, CPS gave the vote of thanks to everyone who were participating in this seminar in particular the distinguished speakers, chairs, panelists and organizers for their contribution in this seminar. He thanked especially the Rector, CIIT Prof. Dr. Raheel Qamar and Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen for their full supports in organizing this seminar. He also thanked his CPS fellows, Dr. Kalsoom Sumera, Ms Mehvish Qayyum, Malik Zeshan, Raheel Zahid, Ammar Ahmed, Zohaib Jamali, and Tahir Aslam for their efforts in organizing this event.

Session II: State of the Economy and Employment

In the first plenary session, Dr. Hafiz Pasha, Former Finance Minister gave a talk on “State of the Economy”. He said, GDP inflation rate as a whole is low but tomato and potato combined in the last two months accounted 30% of inflation. Fiscal deficit has been low at 3.8%. FBR revenue is expected to grow by 16%. We have all good news, the government claims achievements and international credit agencies verified it. That is all the positive side of the story.

Dr. Pasha lamented that all is not good relating to the state of the economy. There has been an unprecedented decrease in revenue, too fast too much. In the past 9 months our agriculture which provides employment to 44% of the workforce has been in deep trouble. Our 60% industry is agro-based. Last year we had negative growth. This year we will recover in cotton to 14 million bales from 10 million bales last year. Agriculture sector minor crop is not doing well whereas others crops like rice are not too well. Unless we have 4-5% growth in agriculture, this country will not grow claiming this unambiguously. With all due respect, the neglect of agriculture started in the military government which focused on the banking sector. Growth cannot happen without the growth of agriculture because rural purchasing power has to grow. Your industry will not rise without agriculture. We are importing3 million cotton bales from India. There is a security threat if India decide not to sell you cotton. We, therefore, have to be self-sufficient in cotton.

We used to export cotton and food to our neighbors but now forced to import these things. The deficits are artificially controlled by the government and official picture of the economy is not based on reality. The parliament should ask why the government manipulates national statistics by changing definitions. Based on the old definition, the debt to GDP ratio is very high at about 70%. Imports are growing and our industries are ravaged because of cheap imports. We need to get our statistics right enabling the policy makers to make right decisions

Exports of the country will continue to decline. We will be lucky if, we achieve $24 billion this year. In contrast, India’s exports are 18 times much higher whereas Bangladesh’s are 70% higher. This is amazing that our exports have suffered when others are doing well. Unfortunately there is unprecedented increase in imports. Imports bonanza is going on. In the last quarter, imports grew by 31%.The government story of CPEC imports is not true with all due respect. SBP figure shows that only 2% of increase is due to CPEC related imports. Imports of fruits, petroleum product, fertilizers chemical, and coppers—imports of all kind of consumer goods are increasing. Our fertilizer industry is declining because import of fertilizer is increasing. The phenomenal growth of imports is due to the policy of fix exchange rate. The government is in ego problem and the country is suffering because of it. This has become suicidal attempt at a time when there is low intensity war on trade. All countries are devaluing their currencies. China with $3 trillion forex reserves devalued it by 8%, Turkey by 30% and India by 4%.

The third area of disappointment is of intellectual dishonesty. Your fiscal deficit is controlled artificially by changing the definitions of debt. Your last year quoted growth rate of 4.7%is actually 3%. Unemployment rate is actually 6%. Investment rate reported at15% is actually 14%. For God sake don’t tell lie. When you engage in believing in yours, you remain in state of denial. I am talking it openly because situation is worrying. The economy is beginning to plunge.

The fiscal deficit last year closed at 4.6% of GDP. The quasi fiscal transactions are parked outside the fiscal deficit. The government has parked Rs888 billion of Pakistan holding company and Rs700 billion losses of Public sector enterprises. The government is giving public guarantees to Chinese companies. Guarantees given were 4% of GDP while fiscal responsibility law allowthe government only 2% of GDP. The government has parked circulate debt of Rs700 billion outside the fiscal deficit; commodity operation of Rs650 billion; and losses of Public sector enterprises of Rs600. Including all these, the fiscal deficit is much higher and debt to GDP ratio is close to 70% of GDP.

The net revenue receipt of federal government in the first three month could not cover the cost of debt service leaving alone the defense, government salary, grants and development. The government is able to cover 60% of defense through revenue while 40% of salary comes through borrowing. We are going towards a default situation. In case of default, this time conditionality would be on national security related.

Remittances are going down. The current account deficit is $9 billion. All kind of imports are gowning. Our industry is ravaged because of cheap imports. We are able to finance only 45% of current account deficit. Thus, the minimum decline in forex reserves this year would be$4.5 billion. We may have to go back to IMF in the coming years.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Pasha said, we need to get our statistics rights on critical bases so that our policy makers can take right decisions. He advised to take some decision now for emergency funds. The government must address the appreciation of Pak rupee against foreign currency which is overvalued by 30%. The government should think how much to devalue it. In the last year three months the current account deficit increased by 500%.

We need first to focus on the real sector. If India decides not to sell cotton your industry will come to halt. First priority is to bring down the prices of inputs. We need to act together on agriculture and industrial sector. We need to give refund to the exporters to increase their liquidity. CPEC is welcomed but don’t discriminate between Pakistani and Chinese company. According to law, SRO should be on category not on individuals as recently done for a Chinese company. Under Free Trade Agreement, our exports to China declined by 45% in three years. India and Vietnam are the beneficiaries. We have witnessed a 35% increase in Chinese imports. Our industry is being destroyed from Chinese imports. Our 35% deficit is due to our great friend China. We need to paramount our interest. Government should ensure that CPEC is financially sustainable and does not lead to displacement of Pakistani businessmen, entrepreneurs, engineers and workers.

Government is engaged in state of deception. The wholesale price index increased by 6.5%. Only one item furnace oil has an increase of 3%. The actual inflation in wholesale price index is 10.4% which one of my graduate students has estimated. The government has overstated growth in manufacturing at 4% at best it is only 2%. He requested the government to hold his meeting with PBS to correct the statistics. Get and act together on CPEC get and act together on Agriculture, Dr. Pasha concluded.

Dr. Javed Ashraf, Vice Chancellor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad who chaired the session said, we have the resources but don’t know how to use them efficiently and that we need to get and act together to try to improve the conditions of our country’s economy.

The next speaker was Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI who spoke on a study on the role of youth in sustainable development and the constraints to youth employment in Pakistan. Sharing the findings of the study, Dr. Vaqar said, there are overlapping institutional roles and responsibilities with multi-tier governance system while the implementation system is vague. There is ineffective accountability mechanisms and weak monitoring system; the linkage between activities, outcomes and impact is weak because of weak feedback and learning loops. The social accountability initiatives are missing and there is lack of community participation in implementation of the projects at local level. The lack of partnerships endangers programme sustainability. The programme outcome is low due to lack of horizontal and vertical linkages. There are issues of quality of certification and the current programmes not reaching youth in informal sector which is a major employer of youth.

Highlighting priority actions for 1000 days, he added, mapping of youth unemployment by region and community is crucial. Federal government need to play the planning, coordination and monitoring role and encourage youth education and skills development through non-profit, civil society organizations and social enterprises. Public sector secondary schools, colleges and universities should be encouraged to open their technical and vocational education and training facility for youth.

The priority actions for long term include reforming domestic regulations, taxes and subsidies to incentivize skill development. The recommendations to address youth employment should be situated in an overall framework of youth engagement and the SDGs. A deliberate effort will be needed to ensure a commitment to ‘leave no one behind’. There is a need to develop a strong monitoring and accountability framework under public-private partnership.

Recommending the budget proposals for jobs, he suggested increasing private sector’s capacity to hire skilled labour through reduction in overall cost of doing business. Indirect tax burden on labour intensive, formal businesses (particularly agriculture) may be reduced through an overall revenue-neutral change. There is a need to enhance the self-employment potential of youth, women and marginalized segments. Wage and self-employment of women and marginalized segments in the society can benefit through coordinated social safety nets and growth of social enterprises in the country.

Recommending the budget proposals for women-led enterprises, he said, employment potential of existing women-led SMEs can be enhanced through appropriate fiscal policy measures which may include: a) ensuring targeted bank finances for women businesses trying to enter regional and global trade; b) relaxed fee and participation terms for exhibitions organized by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan; and c) increased funding to enhance the geographical capacity and outreach by SMEDA can help build capacity of new and existing entrepreneurs and their managers.

Session III: Panel Discussion on “China Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC).

The third session was a Panel Discussion on “China Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC). The panelists included Ambassador Syed Hasan Javed, currently Director, Chinese Studies Centre, NUST, Prof. Dr. Usman Mustafa, PIDE and Dr. Aneel Salman, CIIT. Mr. Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director, Pakistan-China Institute chaired the session.

Ambassador Syed Hasan Javed spoke about how the Chinese have become a number one economic power. They have the best work in agriculture, taxation and civil service system. Pakistan also needs to work on these three factors to improve our economic conditions. At the moment we are struggling against 1% of China’s imports. Pakistan is standing today where China stood in 1978 economically but China underwent a huge change in 1980 and looked where it stands today. I see CPEC as the “great leap forward” as the Chinese put it. It means that it is becoming the same situation as what China went through in 1958-1962. China had suffered a great set back to its economy then and to me CPEC is leading towards the same situation.

The chair, Mr. Mustafa H Sayed commented that Pakistan needs great reforms. His question was where are the people who will make these changes? Currently Pakistan will be adding 10,000 megawatts by the year 2018 so that should be considered as a positive change in the current electricity crisis. China has historically followed a policy of not interfering in Pakistani politics so we cannot say that CPEC is a new version of the East India company scenario. China does not plan to take over Pakistan through the CPEC project. CPEC is not solely being developed by the Chinese but Pakistan is also contributing in the development, for example in Thar. The British are also willing to invest in Pakistan on CPEC projects. So I don’t agree in the fact that decrease of FDI is due to this, I think many countries will want to invest in CPEC which will be a boost to the economic conditions in Pakistan.

Prof. Dr. Usman Mustafa, PIDE said there are benefits that we will reap from CPEC but we need to look at the security issues related to the project also. Roads, trade and currency are the main issues we need to work on that are related to CPEC. A proposal to make a new currency to be used in CPEC is under discussion at the moment but will that be beneficial for our economy? Human resource development needs to be worked on by designing high potential policy solutions.

Dr. Aneel Salman, CIIT spoke about the environmental issues, saying that the most disliked people are the environmentalists like us. When we think about the economic corridor we don’t pitch ourselves to think that it also involves other factors such as the environment and the transport corridor, etc. Climate change is effecting and increasing in Pakistan day by day. The coal plants being developed in the CPEC region might cause more climate changes. We are using our local coal which has a high carbon emission but costs less and has a less effect on our economy, on the hand we are also importing coal with a low carbon emission technology but is high in cost. So the question for the policy makers to consider is which coal should be used? Should it be the one that has more production or the lower carbon emission type? Should we try to save the environment or should we try to save our economy? Another factor to consider is the decline in water in the Punjab region which will affect our agriculture. Another aspect to consider is how to go about protecting the environment especially a vast expanse of green land which is falling in the Pakistan-china economic corridor. If not protected that area can become the cause of severe water decline and will affect our agricultural productions. So the area falling under the CPEC area needs to be properly protected through proper planning so that we can protect our environmental situations also.

Mr. Mustafa H. Sayed who chaired the session commented to these points by saying that the coal which is being imported is made under “ultra super critical technologies “and is being mostly used in the coal power projects. True that coal is considered as being bad for the environment but the coal with the ultra-technology has a very low carbon emission which is a very important factor to be considered. Hydro is a very long-term planning project and the results of completion takes 5 to 6 years and considered a lengthy plan as compared to the coal power projects. The wind corridor is another option and is also a part of Pak-china economic corridor and solar energy plants are also being developed in Sindh. We have an environment agency that monitors and regulates all the laws the Chinese companies also have to follow just like the Pakistani industries. So this agency is already established to work on protecting the environment but we also need to make sure that because of CPEC none of our county’s historical heritage gets damaged. The pre-budget seminar would have been incomplete without a discussion on CPEC. He thanked Amb. Fauzia and Dr. Talat for taking an initiative on creating an awareness on this subject.

Session VI: Expansion of Microfinance and Population Aging in Pakistan

In the 4th plenary session, Syed Sardar Ali, Head, APEX Consulting, Pakistan presented findings of a DFID study on “Recent Expansion of Microfinance in Pakistan”. He said, Microfinance Sector has expanded considerably in recent past; an increase from 1.7 million MF borrowers in 2008 to 3.6 million in 2015 along with an increase in gross loan portfolio from PKR20 billion in 2008 to PKR90.1 billion in 2015. The number of districts (>50,000 borrowers per district) served by MFIs increased from 8 in 2008 to 30 districts in 2015. However, despite the considerable expansion Pakistan lags behind even South Asia in terms of outreach and depth and quality of microfinance credit portfolio. The interest rates charged to MF borrowers remained high despite the fact that general interest rate in country declined. The weighted average lending rates declined from 14% in June 2009 to 8.24% in June 2016 whereas interest rate for the poor borrowers increased from 26% in 2009 to nearly 35% 2015. Syed Sardar Ali presented arguments in favor of interest rate caps that include: high interest rates passed on to those who can least afford them — poor people; high interest rates create doubt about MFIs’ profits or competency; high interest rates can lead to explosion of growth in microcredit market (Cambodia); high interest rates can lead to debt-trap continuously; and more than 40 countries have introduced ceilings or caps on MF interest rates. Likewise, he also presented arguments against interest rate caps that include: operating/processing costs of serving very small loans without collateral; capping rates force small MFIs to go up-market or to sell their portfolio to larger MFIs; rates caps limit product innovation and competition; despite good intentions, interest rate ceilings can actually hurt low-income populations by limiting their access to MF. Finally, Syed Sardar Ali concluded that capping rates can result in reduced interest paid by the poor, and help grow microfinance market rapidly besides protecting the poor from the debt-trap. Unluckily, there has been no consideration of capping interest rate in Pakistan under the policy ambit.

Dr. Asghar Zaidi, Professor, University of Southampton, UK and Adjunct Professor, Institute of Ageing, Chinese University of Hong Kong gave a presentation on “Challenges of Population Ageing in Pakistan”. Highlighting the context, he said, the world’s population is ageing across all regions of the globe. There are currently around 900 million older persons aged 60+ worldwide, representing approximately 12.5% of the global population. By 2050, this will increase to 2.1 billion or 21.5% of the global population. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and in 2015 it had older population of approximately 12.5 million. This places Pakistan in a group of only 15 countries worldwide with more than 10 million older people. By 2050, the number of older persons living in Pakistan will be a staggering 40 million which is a huge number in absolute term.

Dr Zaidi added that Pakistan ranks depressingly low in the Global AgeWatch Index developed by him: at 92 out of 94 countries. It has one of the lowest pension income coverage in the world. It ranks particularly low with respect to health of older persons, with a relatively low life expectancy and even lower healthy life expectancy in comparison to other countries of the region. Giving his recommendations, Dr Zaidi said that there is an urgent need for a better understanding of the state of the social and economic rights of older persons in Pakistan and in developing appropriate policies to promote and protect their rights. The British Council in Pakistan is addressing this need by funding the project on ‘Moving from the Margins: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Older Persons in Pakistan’ in collaboration with HelpAge International Pakistan, carried out during 2016-2017. The project is aimed at providing evidence of what human rights are neglected in Pakistan for the older population and what policies and programmes are required, at the Federal and the provincial levels, to promote and protect the rights of Pakistan’s older population. The project has rolled out a first of its kind nation-wide survey asking as many as 2000 of Pakistan’s older persons to reflect on the issues and barriers they face across the key dimensions of the human rights for older people: Independence, Participation, Care, Self-fulfillment and Dignity. First results of the survey will be available during summer 2017.Finally, Mr. Shahid H. Kardar, former State Bank Governor who chaired the session thanked the speakers and participants for their contribution in the session.

Session V: Energy Sector Challenges in Pakistan

Mr. Ali Shan Azhar, Analyst, High Commission of Canada gave a presentation on“Power Sector Governance in Pakistan: Challenges and Reforms” and said, electricity loadshedding is largely the product of misgovernance rather than that of generation capacity constraints.Governance and institutional issues, mostly administrative and financial in nature, have immensely contributed to the power crisis.

Highlighting key governance challenges, he added that there is a major disconnect between the installed capacity and actual generation leading to a persistent electricity deficit which has currently exceeded 5,000 MWs. T&D losses are well above the global average at 17.8%. The IPPs, which account for nearly half of the installed generation capacity, are highly inefficient.The transmission lines, cables and copper parts of transformation are all in dilapidated shape (due to inadequate upgrading, repair and maintenance), and most transformers are over-loaded.Non-technical losses – theft, inaccurate meters and illegal connections – are veryhigh. According to NEPRA, electricity meters of 70% consumers are out-dated. Nearly12% of the electricity bills involving nearlyPKR 105 billion are not collected. The provincial governments (PKR 99 billion) and AJK (PKR 65 billion) are mega electricity defaulters.

There happened to be a weak professional expertise of NEPRA: no mandatory financial scrutiny, including energy cost audit, of the IPPs for the past eight years; and DISCOs have frequently failed to furnish their Annual Performance Reports. DISCOs’lack of management autonomy as most DISCOs running into losses and remained unable to disconnect influential defaulting consumers and make recoveries from government departments.

Due to the lack of timely and essential maintenance of power stations, theGENCOS have lost nearly one third of theircapacity. Once again, emergence of accumulated inter-corporate (circular) debt arrears between generators and distributors (largely built on unpaid bills), which have hovered around 1% of the GDP, compelling thermal power plants to underperform.

Emphasizing on the proposed reforms and government’s response,he recommended an increase of250% in tariffs and bringing down subsidies to PKR 118 billion. There is a need for transparency sincethe information on the basic nature and intensity of the energy crisis as shared by the authorities is often inconsistent and misleading. Operational/financial data is not regularly shared.CPEC projects have bypassed government procurement rules and competitive bidding.

Reform of DISCOs and GENCOs included, wheeling of Electric Power Regulation 2016, need to improve the key performance indicators, and decentralised entities should be run on corporate and commercial lines with an independent board, and should be free of political influence to appoint a CEO.

 A more effective role of NEPRA requires true autonomy to regulate with technical expertise and institutional capacity. There is a strong need to check electricity theft through anti-theft penalties, including property seizure, which should be implemented through specialized courts; strengthening utilities’ capacity to detect, pursue and prosecute theft and non-payment of dues; and smart metering infrastructure with real time sensors and remote reporting; improvement in recovery of unpaid electricity bills.

Giving a verdict on the power sector governance, he concluded that given the complexity and serious ramifications of the power crisis, an acknowledgement of the underpinning structural constraints is needed to ensure energy security through availability of reliable electricity supply at affordable prices. The government’s attempt to bend the reality and pass the crisis off as one of generation capacity alone has not helped.There has been only partial progress in across the board reforms to address the structural issues.The government has largely been bogged down in day-to-day crisis management of the myriad dysfunctions that plague the power sector. Without undergoing sectoral restructuring and painful governance reforms, the power crisis will not be resolved on a sustainable basis.

Dr. Talat Anwar Advisor, CPS CIIT who chaired the session commented that the root cause of the power crisis emerged from the government policy of setting power tariff rates below the cost recovery level. Thus, price differential amount as a subsidy is supposed to be provided by the government which it frequently fails to pay that result into generation of circular debt which currently stands more than Rs.337 inhibiting IPPs to produce power, and resulting in increased power load shedding.

Session VI: Trade and Export Promotion

Mr. Shahid H Kardar, former State Bank Governor, currently the Vice-Chancellor of Beasonhouse University, Lahore talked on “Pakistan’s Declining Exports: Causes and Remedies”. Giving the basic fact he said, exports declined from $25.1 billion in 2013 to $22billion in 2016 and fell by 1.4% between July-March 2016 and 2017. The current account deficit increased from $3 billion in 2015 to 4 billion in 2016 and to $6.5 billion between July-March 2016 and 2017. The deficit was $2.7 billion just between Jan-March. The share in world exports down from 0.15% in 2011 to 0.1