Experts for sustained action to control inflation crisis

ISLAMABAD  -  Experts at an intellectual dis­course highlighted multiple cri­ses facing the country, urging sustained action amidst inter­national economic recession to avert its serious implications af­fecting the internal drivers of fi­nancial instability.

During a Roundtable titled “Ad­dressing Pakistan’s Inflation Woes” at the 26th Sustainable De­velopment Conference organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, noted that the inflationary situation be­gan with the Ukraine war, causing oil and commodity prices to sky­rocket. He emphasized that Paki­stan’s inflation, typically at 6% to 7%, reached unprecedented levels in recent years, necessitating dis­cussion. Dr. Khan added that the middlemen’s control significant­ly impacts inflation due to the vast difference between wholesale and retail markets.

Mr. Ali Rehman from the Prime Institute stated that inflation has remained a primary concern for successive governments in Pa­kistan. He highlighted that poli­cy and administrative measures to control inflation have proven counterproductive.

Ms. Hiba Zaidi from the Inter­national Finance Corporation ad­dressed various sectors, pointing out distinct reasons for high costs or inflation, especially in food and petroleum. She highlighted struc­tural issues and dysfunctional mar­kets, citing around 50% losses of perishables from farm to market.

Dr. Aliya Hashmi Khan from Quaid-i-Azam University focused on monetary policy, emphasizing the importance of decision-mak­ing to control inflationary trends.

Mr. Saud Bangash, a represent­ative of the Pakistan Business Council, highlighted economic management as the primary issue while noting the structural nature of the economy’s challenges.

Speaking at the final plena­ry titled “Pathway to Recovery, Hope, and Resilience,” Dr. Jehan­zeb Khan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, stressed the need for sustained action to address the country’s complex problems. He mentioned fulfilling commitments in the IMF standby arrangement, stabilizing some indicators, and emphasized the consensus among provinces in the Economic Coordi­nation Committee.

Former Governor of the State Bank, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, empha­sized evidence-based development patterns in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, advocating for sus­tained, sustainable, and inclusive growth while caring for the planet and the majority population.

SDPI Executive Director Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri highlighted Pakistan’s severe economic chal­lenges since July 2023, discussing risks of default and global con­flicts’ impact on world peace. He emphasized the need for innova­tive approaches, referencing de­bates about regulating artificial intelligence and the conference theme, “Light at the end of the Tunnel,” aiming to instill hope in Pakistani society.

In a thematic session titled “Re­thinking Public Debt Assessment with SGDs Lens: Pakistan in Fo­cus,” Dr. Hamza Ali Malik from UNESCAP, Thailand, stressed the importance of fiscal policy and debt management for sustain­able growth. He advocated ro­bust structural development pol­icies for future debt investments aligned with Sustainable Develop­ment Goals (SDGs) and national fi­nancial stability.

Dr. Mohsin Hassan from the Ministry of Finance highlighted the low GDP growth and high in­flation, emphasizing the need for cheaper external financing and re­duced domestic interest rates to maintain the balance of payments.

Ali Kemal from SGDs Task Force stressed the importance of ensur­ing debt sustainability and op­timizing external loans to meet SGDs targets while maintaining a 60% debt to GDP ratio.

In a panel titled “Sustainability in the Digital Age: Potential of AI in Pakistan,” experts emphasized the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to attract significant foreign direct investment (FDI) and gen­erate employment. Major-Gener­al Hafeez-ur-Rehman (retired), Chairman of Pakistan Telecommu­nication Authority (PTA), stressed the necessity of developing an AI ecosystem through comprehen­sive regulatory policies in consul­tation with experts.

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