Election-centred planning

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan pointed out on Thursday that the future-oriented planning was the approach that the Chinese followed, while the rulers in Pakistan remained confined to making election-to-election planning that had pushed the nation to face the prevailing challenges.

Addressing a gathering after performing the ground-breaking of $807 million Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project (T-5) under the government’s ‘Decade of Dams 2018-28’ vision, he blamed the previous rulers for the costliest electricity in the world despite the fact that Pakistan was endowed with tremendous natural resources.

The Prime Minister has a point as planning was mainly done in the country on considerations other than merit of a programme or project and this is true in the case of almost all rulers of the past.

Compulsions of the political leaders and elected representatives are understandable as they have to take into account the prospects of re-election for carrying out planning and development in different constituencies and for different sectors of the national economy but even non-elected leaders did not make decisions on merit just to prolong their stay in power.

It is because of this that no Government, including the incumbent one, could initiate work on the otherwise most feasible Kalabagh Dam project and the then President (Pervez Musharraf) preferred confining himself to making announcements with regard to construction of six mega water reservoirs and made no worthwhile move to realize the target after making tall claims back in 2006.

Election-centric planning and development is not always bad as it is the fundamental responsibility of an elected Government to plan and implement programmes and projects that could alleviate sufferings of the people.

Unprecedented power shortage not only made the life of the people miserable but also badly affected the overall economy of the country and, therefore, the previous Government made resolution of this issue its number one priority.

It is because of the generation capacity added by the previous Government that today the wheel of the economy is running unhindered.

If electricity is costly today, it is not just because of the contracts signed with producers but mainly due to rampant theft, corruption and unbearable losses caused by obsolete transmission and distribution systems.

The present Government has done well by focusing on hydel power generation but the problem would remain there until required investment is made on the power infrastructure.

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