Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is looking to provide a Rs180 million incentive package aimed to augment exports in the country, after textile industrialists demanded it owing to the high cost of producing goods. Pakistan is falling behind when it comes to the export industry, with the trade deficit now sitting at 22.2 per cent, up by 3.82 per cent in the first half of fiscal year 2017. It is a welcome deal whenever government administration pours more money into industry. Pakistan is primarily a goods-based economy and depends on exports for sustainability. However, imports have seen growth in double digits, which is not the direction we should be prematurely heading in at this time. While economists have predicted rapid growth for Pakistan’s economy in the 21st century, we have several confounding factors that need to be addressed as this incentive package is introduced.
A poor railway transportation system and poor power generation capabilities are significant hindrances to economic development. PM Sharif says funding has been dispatched to these sectors and that compared with previous governments’ tenures, his leadership has delivered, especially with regard to power generation and reduction of electricity outages across industries. CPEC is changing the trade landscape but rather than moving forward and working to improve yet the plans that are in place for the upgrading of power supply systems and other infrastructure, the government is busy boasting about its achievements so far, all the while ignoring other crucial sectors such as health and education. This everlasting tussle between various governments that have been in power is what results in the neglect of the country. Ergo, rather than competing and bragging, current and successive governments need to work on the shared goal of serving and benefitting Pakistan and its citizens. The incentive package should see speedy disbursement to rescue the exports industry. Although our economy is out of crisis according to IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, we are infamous for regressive practices due to lack of attention paid and must actively work to push the economy forward.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2017.