WB and Pak economic achievements

THE World Bank has acknowledged that Pakistan’s growth caught up with its neighbours in the fiscal year 2016, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 4.7% – the highest rate in eight years — and is expected to reach 5% in 2017 and 5.4% in 2018. A report of the Bank, however, says the country needs to start investing in human capital and improving health, education and nutrition for sustainable growth and development in the long run. It also emphasises the need for sustaining progress on energy reforms, CPEC and widening the tax net.
This is yet another acknowledgement of prudent economic policies of the present Government and its achievements during the last three and a half years. The country has surely moved away from economic instability, which was a source of concern in 2013 when the PML-N assumed power. The party took difficult and tough decisions despite the fact that these meant erosion of its popularity and that too in a scenario where some of the opposition parties were on the look out to cause maximum dent to the Government. Over sixty percent increase in revenue collection during three years is not a mean achievement but experts say there is still much room to widen the tax base without burdening the already hard-pressed people. The policy of increasing tax rates, imposing tax on food and medicines and increasing prices of utilities every now and then should be abandoned and instead those who have the capacity to pay should be made to pay. The Government seems to be fearful of taxing the feudal because of their perpetual influence in politics but this is creating resentment among masses that are made to pay instead and that too in the shape of disproportionate increase in the support price of wheat and other items. Similarly, sugar mafia is not allowing the prices of sugar to come down and the Government is protecting this mafia by imposing taxes on import of sugar as well as wheat, which amounts denial of benefit to the common man. The Government has also not been able to focus on export sector and is allowing free for all imports as a consequence of which trade deficit is increasing and even record remittances by overseas Pakistanis are not sufficient to neutralise this widening gap. Circular debt in power sector is another issue that needs out of the box solution instead of inflating electricity bills of honest consumers.

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