Pakistan has potential to post still better growth

THOUGH the Economic Survey, launched on Thursday, acknowledges that the country missed several targets especially the GDP growth rate, which was 4.7% during the outgoing year as against the targeted 5.5% but it is satisfying that it is highest in the last eight years. However, missing of the target by 0.8% puts question marks about plans of the present Government to achieve the ambitious target of 7% GDP growth rate by the end of its tenure in 2018.
The document shows industry and services sectors performed well but growth in agriculture was dismal and this was expected in view of lopsided focus of the Government. Previously, industrial and manufacturing suffered mainly because of non-availability of electricity and gas but the authorities concerned made it a point that they get their power requirements and in turn these sectors grew somewhat satisfactorily. Agriculture sector has also been facing numerous challenges and the Government came out with a package but it could not be implemented effectively due to its politicization by some vested interests in opposition, non-cooperation by Sindh and KPK governments and even opposition by the Supreme Court and the results are before us. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deserves credit for directing budget-makers to include a package of incentives and relief measures to develop agriculture sector and hopefully this would have a salutary impact on the overall situation in the sector. Agriculture can develop only if cost of inputs is reduced significantly but so far the emphasis has been on increasing the procurement price of different crops, which made these commodities dearer for people of Pakistan but the end benefit was reaped by the middleman and not the farmer. Apart from this, Pakistan has the potential to post still better GDP growth rate if the planners set their priorities right by laying more emphasis on increasing productivity than squeezing different sectors of the economy by way of unjust taxes as we witness in the case of electricity, IT products and telecom sectors. We have miserably failed to promote sectors other than textile and the textile too has not delivered as per its potential and expectations due to fraudulent practices. A policy shift is needed if we are really interested in an all-inclusive growth and development.

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