Economic performance

AS two days are left in the tenure of present government, it is also time to take a holistic review of its performance in different sectors. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail appeared before the media on Tuesday briefing in detail their economic performance over the last five years by making a comparison with the previous government of PPP. PM Abbassi in his remarks stated that economy performed significantly better in almost all respects and the indicators would have been far better had the instability not hit the country through sit-ins and other factors.
There is no doubt that when present government assumed the charge back in 2013, it was faced with a host of issues ranging from security to economic problems aggravated by power shortages. As a result there was lack of confidence on the economy, a concern shared by both domestic and foreign investors. Then international financial institutions were predicting a default on international debt obligations, and investors were knocking on the court’s doors over the government’s failure to pay them power purchase price. In this backdrop, the growth figures presented by the PM in the presser indeed are encouraging; reflecting that the PML (N) leadership tried their best to turn the tide and one can safely say that the Pakistani economy today is better off than it was in 2013. But at the same time it is also a fact accepted by the outgoing government itself that issues like current account deficit and circular debt are still a matter of concern that need to be fixed.
Dependence on foreign loans is still a major issue and it is being predicted that the next government will again have to knock at the IMF to avert balance of payment crisis. We understand had the government really focused on enhancing exports by bringing in competitiveness and value addition in products with the coordination of the private sector, the situation today would have been far different. When Khurram Dastagir was the Commerce Minister, the export target of $35b was set but unfortunately nothing concrete was done to achieve the target and today the situation is that exports are stagnant and remain at the level that were in 2013. If we really want to end reliance on loans, we have to really focus on bolstering exports through necessary interventions and bring affluent people into the tax net. Then, we also believe that the present government could have done far better in health and education sectors.

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