Council Meeting

The newly constituted eight-member Economic Advisory Council held its first meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The top most agenda and national interest are to put Pakistan back on track with economic recovery and progress. From the various economic indicators, we are safe to say that the process of recovery has started already. The slash in inflation from 38% to 17% in the month of April is a promising sign and gives hope that the rest of the indicators will also improve gradually. If Pakistan succeeds in getting the next bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the recovery will speed up. The Prime Minister overseeing these developments personally makes the effort all the more rigorous and fruit-bearing.

There are still some targets that must be met before the government announces a new budget in June, next month. The public is eager to see what decisions the government takes in regards to taxes. Already burdened with higher costs of power and utilities, additional taxes will not bode well with people. Rescuing the $350 billion economy is a hefty task as it is. Since this government took charge, investor confidence has improved. Frequent visits from friendly regional countries and agreements of an economic nature are an achievement worthy of boasting. However, agreements and projects take time to materialize and many agreements end up being void due to very long and unnecessary delays.

The initial relief that Pakistan has been able to achieve from the $3 billion IMF program has also helped with controlling the external account deficit. The next bailout of 7-8 billion dollars, if successful, will further help with ending the deficit but all hopes should not be placed in the IMF program solely. Long-term self-sustainability is what Pakistan must create. Pending trade issues with the regional countries also factor into this equation. An expression of resumption of trade with India, initially expressed by Deputy PM Ishaq Dar, evades the ground realities. The trade is suspended because issues of hard politics continue to dominate this relationship and heavy import duty imposed by India cannot be brought to the table unless other matters are discussed.

The meeting of the advisory council sets things in the right direction. Consistent and clear vision will help Pakistan get back on its feet.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt