AS per traditions, President Arif Alvi addressed a joint session of Parliament on Monday to mark the beginning of the fourth parliamentary year of the present National Assembly, highlighting achievements of the PTI Government in different sectors and walks of life during the last three years.
He was so impressed by the policies and programmes pursued by the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan that he wished the world to become a follower and student of Imran and learn from him due to his political wisdom.
Referring to the protests of the opposition and the media-persons, who boycotted the proceedings of the joint session, the President pointed out that the country was on the path of industrial development, which cannot be stopped by raising noise, adding that the government had secured achievements on various fronts, especially on economic, social and human development and foreign policy fronts.
There is no doubt that the country was able to sustain economic stress caused by the Covid-19 due to wise and deft handling of the situation and prudent economic policies.
As highlighted by the President, it was a matter of satisfaction that the economic growth remained 3.94 percent during the last financial year.
Exports had touched $25.3 billion and remittances $29.4 billion during the last financial year, while remittances witnessed an increase of 10 percent during the first two months of the current fiscal year.
It was because of rising exports, record remittances by overseas Pakistanis and inflows from some friendly countries and IMF that the foreign exchange reserves reached all-time high recently and multilateral institutions as well as credit rating agencies speak high of the economic policies of the Government.
One may also point out that as against the threat of default that the country was facing a few years back, the Government managed to pay back loans and is thinking in terms of not contracting more loans as part of its strategy to tackle the mounting burden of foreign loans.
The health of the economy was also reflected in the working of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, which broke all previous records and emerged as the world’s fourth best performing market.
According to a survey of overseas investors, chambers of commerce and industry, the Business Confidence Index of Pakistan had improved by a massive 60 percent, which would go a long way in attracting more investment in different sectors of the economy.
The Government has not been able to take the revenue collection to the fantastic figure of eight trillion rupees that it pledged to achieve before assumption of power but the FBR collection had reached Rs4,732 billion in the last fiscal year and during the first two months of current financial year an additional Rs160 billion was collected.
Increased economic activity would surely help raise revenue collection, which is the only viable option to help the country stand on its own feet financially, getting rid of the greater reliance on foreign aid that comes at the cost of economic and financial sovereignty.
The country can also effectively tackle its problems if proper attention is paid on development of agriculture on modern lines that can reduce our dependence on import of agricultural commodities with bright prospects for production of surplus for export.
IT exports have already crossed the mark of $2 billion but the country can earn between 5 to 10 billion dollars in a few years provided liberal incentives are offered to the industry.
Thanks to the policies and incentives offered for the telecom sector, many companies are now engaged in local manufacturing of mobile phone sets and the country has become an exporter of the item.
The Government also deserves credit for launching a number of poverty alleviation programmes and empowerment of the otherwise disadvantaged segments of the population.
Similarly, introduction of a single national curriculum, tree plantation campaign, Clean and Green Pakistan programme and legal and administrative measures aimed at safeguarding rights of women and children are also acknowledged as major feats of the PTI Government.
However, there are also weak points on several fronts and the fact that the President delivered his speech in the backdrop of severe protests by the opposition parties and media on an issue that is deeply linked to the future of the democracy — threats to freedom of media — point towards the need to listen to other stakeholders in the system.
Again, the President narrated successes and achievements of the Government but skipped mentioning of the difficulties and problems of the people especially in the context of record price-hike, repeated devaluation of rupee, frequent upward revision of prices of POL products and gas/electricity tariff, slow infrastructure development, unemployment, corruption at lower levels of the system, lack of access to justice and growing crime rate.
The performance of a Government is evaluated mostly on the basis of progress on these issues and therefore, they must be addressed to the satisfaction of the masses.