ISLAMABAD: Even after 19 months in power, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government is still struggling to implement its economic agenda and has shown a lacklustre attitude towards reforms, said a report issued by the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME) – an independent think tank.
According to PRIME’s report, the implementation of the economic agenda as per PML-N’s own manifesto is judged by using a scorecard – ranging from 0 to 10 – of 82 targets that reflect economic promises made by the ruling party in three areas, namely economic revival, energy security and social protection.
According to the fourth Tracking Report, which reviews the central government’s performance from July to December 2014, the average score in economic revival stood at 4.6 as compared to 4.33 in the third, 4.47 in the second and 3.17 in the first tracking report. In the energy security, the government earned a score of 4.5, which was 14.5% higher than the score in third, 3% higher than the second and 8% higher than the first-report score.
Lastly in social protection, its average score is 6.5 as compared to 6.25 in third, 6.5 in second and 6 in the first report.
At the launch of the report, PRIME Executive Director Ali Salman said “the improved performance of Pakistan Railways, tangible steps in the privatisation process and initiation of net metering are some of the positive highlights of the economic reforms agenda pursued by the government.
“However, the excessive build-up of circular debt, GST on petroleum products and poor investor confidence can be termed as negatives and are hampering the growth of economy.”
GDP growth is the first component tracked under economic revival. In its manifesto, the PML-N vowed to double GDP growth from 3% to over 6%. The score of 5 out of 10 is awarded after considering the assessments of the State Bank of Pakistan, IMF and various sub-components like investment in infrastructure and energy projects.
The PML-N, in its manifesto, stressed the need for improving tax collection and tax administration by bringing informal economy into the tax net, taxing all income and reducing the number of taxes to name a few.
The report states that progress was being made on improving energy generation and work has started on some projects like the Thar coal fields and the establishment of a wholesale energy market by allowing net metering and reduction in duties on imports of solar panels.
Despite these improvements, the promise of permanently eliminating circular debt is yet to see the light of day and has earned a score of zero.
Under energy security, one of the most promises made by the PML-N was on creating a separate Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources by merging two ministries.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2015.
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