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Published Date: Apr 15, 2013

SDPI Press Release (April 15, 2013)

Former
Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz has said that foremost agenda in Pakistan Muslim
League (N) manifesto is to put economy back on track and resurrect Pakistan as
progressive and sovereign nation.

PML-N
senior vice president was speaking at a debate on manifesto of Pakistan Muslim
League Nawaz (PML-N) here on Monday. The event organized by Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) was fifth in series of seminars, planned to
bring manifestos of political parties into discussion and their assess impact
on electorates in run up to the general elections. Shakeel Ramay of SDPI
moderated the proceedings while Mome Salem also from SDPI presented
introductory remarks.

Sartaj
Aziz said that PML-N seek 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 increase to 15 percent whereas investment to GDP
ratio will be pushed up to 20 percent respectively.

He
said, one of the most crucial challenge to Pakistan is energy crisis which is
not only affecting economic growth but adding into miseries of people. He said,
PML-N promises to take care of energy crisis by generation of 10,000 MW of
electricity, half of it from coal, mobilization of US 20 billion investment in
power sector and progressively reducing transmission and distribution losses to
10 percent.

He
deliberated that another distinct feature of PMLN manifesto includes policy on
food security where not only food production would be increased by 4 percent
but its affordable access to people would be ensured.

Talking
on new framework on social change he said, education is PMLN’s priority agenda
and expenditure on education would be increased to 4 percent of GDP beside
other initiative 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 said, health sector spending would be
increased to 2 percent of GDP and every family’s health care would be
subsidized 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 remittance on productive investments.

Speaking
as discussant on PMLN manifesto, senior analyst, Zahid Hussain said that
although PMLN claims to set realistic and achievable goals in manifestos but
there are areas high on promises. Citing economy, he said, the manifesto
promise to make Pakistan, the 10th biggest economy of the world in due
course of time, which he said, is unrealistic keeping in view the
socio-economic and political situation of the country. He said, PMLN manifesto
is not clear enough on tax restructuring, abolishing SROs, implementation of
RGST and  the question that how PMLN would improve tax to GDP ratio to 15
percentof GDP. He said, ensuring 100 percent enrolment in education by 2020 is
just rhetoric. He also showed apprehensions over lack of solid policy action on
terrorism and sectarianism in the country.

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

He
also criticized the mention of ‘strategic parity’ with neighbors in PMLN
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, PMLN must consider the abolishment of ‘elitist
model of governance’ in which ruler despite belonging to affluent classes,
misuse authority, embezzle state resources and pass legislations which unduly
entitles 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 PMLN
manifesto, which he said would increase efficiency and reduce corruption.