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Daily Times

Published Date: May 24, 2012


Eminent economic experts proposed short, medium and long-term measures to rehabilitate economic and social development in the country.
In the absence of planning, no investment in infrastructure development, mismatch in Public Sector Development Projects (PSDP) requirements and allocations, oil-dependent energy mix and weak monitoring mechanism are the fundamental challenges of Pakistan’s economy and budgetary planning process.
Dr Kaiser Bengali, former adviser Planning and Development of Chief Minster Sindh lamented there was no vision, direction, agenda and also no monitoring of projects in the government.
He said the state has to invest at least 10 percent of total GDP on infrastructure to develop a competitive economy with regional countries such as India and China.
He said Pakistan was development and welfare state during 1947-77 as it created assets such as factories, power stations, dams, highways and power complexes whereas from 1977 to onwards the state has become a national security state experiencing an era of assets depletion including no investment at all in infrastructure development during last 10 years in particular.
“Pakistan suffers with extreme infrastructure deficiency, we are an economy which is de-industrialising, we are consuming much but not producing” he lamented.
Criticizing existing important-dominated and services-dependent economy of the country, he proposed resurrection of welfare state and manufacturing-based economy.
He proposed a shift from road to rail transportation while integrating railway and NLC especially in the context of freight which would help to reduce extended reliance on diesel, which was also one the major reasons for high electricity production costs.
He recommended linking the Gwadar with Kandhar and diversion of Afghan Transit Trade towards this underutilised port which would boost the economy as well as fight the militancy through economic opportunities and employment instead of military means alone.
Fauzia Ejaz, member National Assembly urged for a strong accountability culture in the country coupled with provision of social justice and good governance.
Tahir Dhindsa, Editor of SDPI Economic Bulletin moderated the discussion and maintained PSDP was useless without governance reforms and long term growth considerations.
Dr Vaqar Ahmed, research fellow, Economic Growth Unit, SDPI recommended both short and medium term measures to rehabilitate and bring the stability factor in the economy.
He said 85 percent of development projects were politically motivated while ignoring economic rationale and 38 percent of PSDP did not reach poor.
He said, on short term, the revival of growth rate was vital through increased productivity while addressing the energy crisis whereas some form of structural reforms such as tax and trade reforms were fundamental for the country on medium term basis.
He underlined re-alignment of PSDP in forthcoming budget to achieve a pro-poor growth while budget should lead to re-distribution of wealth through prudent taxation measures.
He underscored on the need of strong monitoring mechanisms of projects adding the Planning Commission last year was able to conduct only desk monitoring of mere 600 projects out of 1,850. He urged for complimentary governance reforms and restructuring of the boards of public sector enterprises.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said there was no allocation for National Zero Hunger Action Plan recently inaugurated by Prime Minster to fight hunger and malnourishment in the country despite claims of a number of initiatives including data collection.
He underlined the need for balancing the energy mix from oil to renewable energy adding the country produces around 39 percent of its electricity from oil whereas India produces only 1 percent.