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Published Date: May 21, 2013

SDPI Press Release (May 21, 2013)

Economic
experts have called upon the newly elected government to align upcoming budget
on the priority agenda of macroeconomic stabilization, development and economic
growth.

The
experts were speaking at a pre-budget seminar titled ‘Agenda for Stabilization
& Economic Growth’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI) here on Tuesday.

Speaking
at the occasion, Dr Ashfaque H. Khan, Dean, National University of Science and
Technology (NUST) denounced the conventional way of managing fiscal crisis such
as reduction in budget deficit and development programs and added that such
measures have brought pain and sufferings to people around the world.

He
urged the new government to devise ‘forward looking macroeconomic policies’
which according to him, strike a balance between ‘stabilization’ and
‘developmental priorities’. He said macroeconomic policies should not focus
narrowly on reducing budget deficit and debt stabilization but should be
supportive of growth and employment generation.

Talking
of economic reform agenda he said that there is greater need for resource
mobilization through reforming tax system and bringing efficacy in government
expenditure particularly by restructuring or privatization of public sector
enterprises which are putting extreme burden on public exchequer. He also
proposed proper fiscal decentralization, energy sector reform, reforms in
central bank, improving investment climate, promoting inclusive growth and
removing ‘manufacturing defects’ of the new NFC Award.  

In
his introductory remarks, Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI
suggested the new government to increase efficiency of existing energy
generation and transmission system and improve effectiveness of public sector
development program in short term. “However, in the longer term an enabling
environment must be provided to private sector to take a lead in the
development process,” he added.

For
doing so he suggested privatization or increased role of private sector in
public sector enterprises, strengthening institutions that promote competition
in markets, bringing down the tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and long
term investment in improving connectivity across the country.

Economic
expert, Safiya Aftab deliberated on social sector challenges in upcoming
budget. She was of the view that Federal Government has put the bulk of
resources available for social protection into BISP and this trend would most
probably continue as the program is likely to continue with the change of name.

Comparing
the last year development expenditures after 18th amendment, she said that
education expenditure has not shown significant increases in real terms in
Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She also cited that development expenditure
falls in Punjab and Balochistan but is consistently rising in KP mainly due to
building of infrastructure damaged in war against extremism such as schools,
hospitals and roads.

Giving
concluding remarks she said that drastically raising the expenditure on health
and education may not be the answer but provinces now needs to start medium
term planning exercises for use of additional funds disbursed through new NFC.
In most cases, a reappraisal of priorities and improving the basic services is
the need of hour rather than high profile schemes, she added.