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The News

Published Date: Apr 18, 2013

PML-N to put economy back on track: Sartaj aziz

Former
finance minister Sartaj Aziz has said that foremost agenda of the Pakistan
Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) manifesto is to put economy back on track and
resurrect Pakistan as a progressive and sovereign nation.

The
senior vice president of the PML-N was speaking at a debate on manifesto of the
party here at an event organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI), fifth in a series of seminars, planned to bring manifestos of political
parties into discussion and assess the impact on electorates in the run up to
the general elections.

Sartaj
Aziz said: “The PML-N is seeking revival of economy in next five years through
pro-investment and pro-business policies where the growth rate will be doubled
to about 6 percent; fiscal deficit will be almost halved to 4 percent of the
GDP; tax to GDP ratio would be increased to 15 percent, whereas investment to
GDP ratio will be pushed up to 20 percent respectively.

“One
of the most crucial challenges to Pakistan is energy crisis which is not only
affecting economic growth but also adding to the miseries of the people of the
country,” he said, adding that the PML-N promises to take care of energy crisis
by generation of 10,000MW electricity, half of it from coal, mobilisation of
$20 billion investment in power sector and progressively reducing transmission
and distribution losses to 10 percent.

Sartaj
Aziz deliberated that another distinct feature of the PML-N’s manifesto
includes policy on food security where not only food production would be
increased by 4 percent but its affordable access to people would also be
ensured.

Talking
on a new framework on social change, he said: “Education is the PML-N’s
priority agenda and expenditure on education would be increased to 4 percent of
GDP beside other initiatives such as Danish schools, district education
authorities, education endowment fund and rise in literacy level from 54
percent to 80 percent in shortest possible time.” He added that the health sector
spending would be increased to 2 percent of GDP and every family’s healthcare
would be subsidised through Medical Insurance Card.

Some
of the other policy promises in the manifesto included creation of three
million jobs, use of IT technologies for efficient governance, creation of
parliamentary bodies, civil-military and security issues and use of 50 percent
of remittances on productive investments. Speaking as a discussant on the PML-N
manifesto, senior analyst Zahid Hussain said although the PML-N claims to set
realistic and achievable goals in the manifesto but there are areas high on
promises.

Citing
the economy issue he said: “The manifesto promises to make Pakistan the 10th
biggest economy of the world in due course of time, which is unrealistic
keeping in view the socio-economic and political situation of the country.” He
said the PML-N’s manifesto is not clear enough on tax restructuring, abolishing
SROs, implementation of RGST and the question that how the PML-N would improve
tax to GDP ratio to 15 percent of GDP.

He
added that ensuring 100 percent enrolment in education by 2020 is just rhetoric
and showed apprehensions over lack of solid policy action on terrorism and
sectarianism in the country.

Giving
his view, Imtiaz Gul, Executive Director CRSS, said the PML-N manifesto can be
good at economy and other things but it clearly misses out on terrorism and
militancy aspects. “It seems that the PML-N lacks clear understanding of the
militancy or does not want to touch controversial topics,” he resented.“There
is lack of bolder and braver policy initiatives particularly on anti-terrorism,
foreign policy and civil-military matters,” he added.

He
also criticised the declaration of ‘strategic parity’ with neighbours in the
PML-N manifesto which he said is the conventional cold-war era approach.
“Instead of parity by accumulating strategic assets and military power, we must
embed greater investment in human development,” he added. Talking on governance
aspects, Imtiaz Gul said: “The PML-N must consider the abolishment of ‘elitist
model of governance’ in which ruler despite belonging to affluent class, misuse
authority, embezzle state resources and pass legislations which unduly entitle
them the life-time state security, escorts and other perks and privileges which
otherwise must have been spent on health and education of general public.” He,
however, praised the e-governance promise in the PML-N manifesto, which, he
said, would increase efficiency and reduce corruption.