Where is the economy headed? This question is being asked by both the economists and the general public. Putting the economy on the right track was one of the major promises made by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf before the 2018 elections. Eight months after it formed government at the centre, in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there’s no good news yet on the economic front. The rupee devaluation, rising inflation, and no relief in sight for the poor consumers exposes the policy makers’ inability to turn around the economy. For now, inflated utility bills is what the consumers have to contend with.
The government seems to be relying solely on the IMF package, something it flayed the previous governments for. Perhaps that is why the World Bank’s estimate about Pakistan’s growth rate paints a dull picture. The bank says Pakistan’s GDP growth will decrease to 3.4 percent in fiscal year 2018-19 and further drop to 2.7 percent in FY20. In this backdrop, what is the government’s plan for job creation, poverty alleviation, and reviving the dwindling economy? Can the government even think about addressing these issues without reviving the dormant industrial sector which is asking for a comprehensive industrial policy? Add to it, the NAB’s active role in shooing away potential local investors. What impact will this scenario have on the foreign investors is not difficult to speculate.
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The current economic situation should be a wake-up call for a government that raised the slogan of tabdeeli and ended up making it for the worse. The time for the government to seriously focus on the real economic issues, instead of looking for short-term measures, is now.