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Pakistan Today

Published Date: Apr 4, 2013

PTI election manifesto faces tough scrutiny in SDPI seminar

As part of
a series of seminars to dissect manifestos of various political parties, the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) invited speakers from Pakistan
Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Islamabad on Wednesday to address a gathering of
journalists and political enthusiasts.
The PTI’s 31-page account of projected changes to turn around rampant
corruption and deprivation in Pakistan is to its credit, cloaked with an
optimism that is heartening were it to satiate the many echoes of ‘but how?’
within the seminar room.
The verbal crossfire between PTI’s advocates and those curious to undress a
prudish set of plans was not out of hostility, but out of genuine curiosity.
PTI’s Deputy Secretary Information Ahmad Jawad and the party’s International
Chapter chief Dr Humayun Mohamand unveiled a manifesto that can be described as
vague, at best as it communicated an idealistic makeover of Pakistan into what
Jawad related as a shift towards a self-sufficient welfare state without
reliance on foreign aid.
The party hopes to achieve this goal through internal taxation – a projected
$900 billion – and through urging top-tier state actors to relinquish perks
which will presumably allow for more fiscal flexibility to divert into the
economy. Mohamand shared PTI’s plans to increase public health funding from 0.8
% of the GDP to an estimated 2.6 % within its five-year-rule. “We want to
create a ‘Health Equity Fund’ for the treatment of the poorest of the poor,”
said Mohamand. According to Jawad, alternate energy resources, such as the use
of coal for power generation would help ‘solve the energy crisis’, reducing the
vicious cycle of debt.
“We want to reduce our ministries to 17,” he said, revealing that Pakistan’s
ministries, between 37 and 50 in total, were superfluous and institutions such
as Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Railways could benefit from
privatisation.
“The schemes outlined in this manifesto will require a lot more funding than the
projected Rs 900 billion that the party hopes to recover through firm
taxation,” said journalist, Khalid Jamil, elaborating that debt management,
which is crucial to self-sustainability and future of the economy, was not
tackled in necessary detail within the manifesto. “For instance, how is the
party planning to generate the $ 7 billion required for its coal power
project?”