Economic Dialogue 2011

Pakistan is fast heading towards higher inflation and to overcome this grim scenario; improvement in governance coupled with a drastic cut in expenditure and revenue generation is crucial. The doom and gloom scenario needs an urgent handling. Good governance, good policies, good institutions, good macroeconomic management are the drivers of economic growth that have gone dormant for quite some time. This was the crux of the speeches delivered at Economic Dialogue 2011 held at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday. Senior economist Dr Akmal Hussain said the country is facing its gravest economic crisis in history after 1971. He said the economy is in deep recession, poverty along with high inflation is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, he added, the government has zero fiscal space. He warned that Pakistan was heading towards higher inflation if immediate improvement in governance is not accompanied with cut in expenditure and substantial increase in revenue.

The former WB Executive Abid Hassan said that the institutional decay has now started taking its toll and the government should take appropriate measures on emergent basis to stop this decay. He said that with every passing day the country is going deeper and deeper into the economic mire. “Today we have reached a situation where even an economic stimulus would not work. The government should concentrate on tax collection and controlling unnecessary expenditures. Unless and until these two measures are not taken, the economy would not be able to be back on rails,” he said. The PIDE Vice Chancellor Dr Rashid Amjad said that the present day doom and gloom scenario could be changed by overcoming the acute energy shortage being witnessed by the country. The issue of circular debt needs to be taken care of by those sitting at the helm of affairs. “PSDP has a multiplier effect on the employment and economy. It should not be cut,” he said. Former chief Economist Planning Commission Dr Pervaiz Tahir blamed the political chaos for our economic woes and termed the dictatorship democracy cycle as mother of all ills.

Energy sector expert Munawar Baseer, ex Executive committee member Almas Hyder and LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik while appreciating the input provided by the economists said that most of the issues and challenges faced by the country are more of political. The political leadership while realizing the sensitivity of the situation should come up with a solid solution with close coordination with the chambers. “The policies are being made in isolation without the consultation of real stakeholders and that’s why the economic situation today has become more complex and directionless,” he said. The speakers said that the business community should be involved for the sake of correct decision-making. They urged the government to evolve a more realistic and pragmatic framework by putting an end to inter-provincial disparity and the disparities within the province. The government should re-do its priority list and concentrate on the few areas that come on the top of that priority list.

It is very unfortunate, the speakers said, that the country has become the most inhospitable for both the local and the foreign investors for security reasons. “Our inability to reach a consensus on water issue and inability to tap hydrocarbon potential of Balochistan has virtually pushed us to the wall,” they said. staff report – Daily Times