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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Apr 4, 2013

PTI election manifesto faces tough scrutiny

As
part of a series of seminars to dissect the manifestos of various political
parties, the Sustainable Policy Development Institute invited speakers from the
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 do so through internal taxation – a projected Rs900 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 Rs900 billion that the party hopes to recover through firm taxation,”
said journalist, Khalid Jamil, expanding that debt management, which is crucial
to self-sustainability and future of 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?”

Published
in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2013.

Correction:
An earlier version of the article cited the projected tax collection in dollars
instead of rupees.