Experts have called upon the new government to place energy, revival of economy and establishing peace and security on top of its priorities.
At a talk titled “Development Priorities for New Government” on Tuesday they said that people need relief from prolonged energy crisis and shattered economy. The event was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said a press release issued by the institute.
Professor Dr Tariq Banuri from the University of Utah, said that the new government must devise a development strategy - a combination of growth strategy, social sector strategy, energy strategy and innovation strategy coupled with introduction of reforms and good governance measures.
He noted that every new government comes with a sense of optimism to turn things around and wished the new government to bring positive developments inscribed in their manifestos. However, he said that continuity of process and policies is fundamentally important to spur growth and development in the country.
Referring to daunting challenges of revival of economy and energy crisis, he said that economy can automatically be uplifted with radical expansion in energy generation. He said that conventional energy resources are under lot of stress and it is an established fact worldwide that future now lies in renewable energy. He called upon the government to strategically invest in energy sector with emphasis on renewable resources. He appreciated the start of Pak-Iran gas pipeline project but showed his reservation which according to him has higher rates as compared to international market.
He said that Pakistan needs to learn from regional success models such as Malaysia who through education and innovation, have transformed themselves into knowledge economies. He said Pakistani economy needs critical reforms to be able to stand on its feet where the most important contributor can be to have substantial increase in tax to GDP ratio. Dr Banuri also talked of reforms in government bureaucracy with particular emphasis on accountability and coherence of various pillars of state such as judiciary and executive.
The professor from the US said 44 per cent of power is produced from furnace which results in very high tariff for consumers in the country. But this costly electricity is heavily subsidised and consumers are charged nine rupees per unit and in average 2-4 rupees per unit is paid by common consumers. He said producing costly electricity and distributing it at subsidised prices cannot work anywhere in the world. He also lamented lack of accountability regime and management crisis which is contributing in the power crisis.
Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Joint Director Dr Rehana Siddiqui urged the new government to devise policies for youth which she said is a huge demographic dividend but no serious effort has been made to tape this resource.
Earlier, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, said that Pakistani voters seemed to opt for performance and now the elected government has to deliver on its promises. He added the first challenge is to take the ownership of budget which has already been prepared by bureaucracy and negotiate with IMF for loan otherwise Pakistan is on the verge of default. He urged government to revise energy mix and plug the loopholes to address energy crisis. He said revival of economy could be a laborious task but plugging the loopholes can provide some relief to people in short time.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2013.