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Published Date: Dec 16, 2011


There are structural problems and issues in the systems of governance in South Asia which are the main impediment to sustainable growth and development in the region.
Speakers at the concluding day of the 14th Sustainable Development Conference here on Thursday stressed the need for opening up of minds and doors for discussions of controversial issues to promote better livelihood within the countries of South Asia.
The three-day conference titled `Re-defining paradigms of sustainable development in South Asia` was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Dr Nadeemul Haque, the deputy chairman of Planning Commission, stressed collaboration among academicians and researchers in order to determine the future course of action for Pakistan.
“We need practical and creative research agenda to save this country and ensure its sustainable development,” Dr Haque added. The most unfortunate thing, he added, is that majority of research in social sector and economy is being conducted by consultants of donor agencies.
Shahid Kardar, former governor State Bank of Pakistan, said structural flaws were affecting the sustainability and causing economic imbalance.
“All issues faced by the country are backed by structural problems,” Mr Kardar observed, adding: “Pakistan has one of the lowest tax collection rates while the subsidies are high on many things like fertilizers, and state-owned entities like PIA and Railways are making huge losses daily.”
He said it was difficult to manage these issues and the country was continuously moving deeper into debts.
“If the provinces cannot tax the agriculture sector, why is the federal government subsidising fertilizer? It should be done by the provinces,” he remarked. Similarly, electricity consumers in Lahore are bound to pay the line loss incurred by Hesco as people of Sindh are not paying bills. “Let them plug the loss and be sustainable.”
To get out of the financial quagmire, Pakistan needs strong decisions to tax all those who are eligible for it, and all the players, including the government, private sector and civil society, have to change lifestyle, he added. “Only then, we can ask the masses to render sacrifices,” Mr Kardar said.
In the session on `Governance challenges`, the panelists were largely of the view that governance was a broader concept than the outdated idea of merely a “government”, and is achieved through fostering interaction between the three pillars of societal structures – state, civil society and private sector or market.
Speakers at the session on `Costs of economic non-cooperation to consumers in South Asia` stressed that the consumers would be the main beneficiary, especially in Pakistan and India, with active cross-border trade liberalisation.