Islamabad January 21st, 2015: Even after 19 months in power the current government of PML-N is still too slow in implementing its economic agenda and has shown a lacklustre attitude towards economic reforms said the report issued by Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), an independent think tank.
According to PRIME, PML-N has received a passing 52% on the basis of its economic performance. The report tracks the implementation of the economic agenda as per PML-N’s own manifesto with the help of a ‘scorecard’ which allocates scores on a range of 0 to 10 to 82 targets reflecting the economic promises made by the present ruling party in three areas: Economic Revival, Energy Security and Social Protection.
According to the 4th Tracking Report “Too slow to make it”, which reviews 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 3rd, 4.47 in the 2nd and 3.17 in the 1st tracking report. In the Energy Security, the PML-N government earned a score of 4.5 which was 14.5% higher than the score in 3rd report, 3% higher than the 2nd report and 8% higher than the score in the 1st report. Lastly in social protection its average score is 6.5 as compared to 6.25 in the 3rd, 6.5 in the 2nd and 6 in the 1st report.
At the launch of the report, Executive Director of PRIME, Ali Salman said that ‘the improved performance of Pakistan Railways, tangible steps in the privatization 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, PML N vowed to double GDP growth rate from 3% to over 6%. The score of 5 out of 10 is awarded after considering the assessments of State Bank of Pakistan, IMF, and various sub-components like investment in infrastructure and energy projects.
The PML-N in its manifesto stressed on improving tax collection and tax administration by bringing informal economy into tax net, taxing all income, reducing the number of taxes to name a few. However in this component, its performance was quite dismal and earned an average score of 2.9 out of 10.
While commenting on energy security the report states that progress was being made on improving energy generation and work has started on some projects like Thar Coal Fields, establishment of 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 the Energy Security, one of the most ambitious promises made by the PML-N was on creating a separate Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources by merging two ministries, i.e. Water and Power, and Petroleum and Natural Resources. Since no progress was made in this regard, a zero score was awarded.
The ruling party receives a good score in ‘Social Protection’, as it not only continued conditional cash transfer programme, i.e. Benazir Income Support Programme, of the previous regime, it significantly increased allocation and monthly amount given to beneficiaries was also increased from Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500 per month earning a score of 9.
The Report concludes that as regards its Economic Agenda promised in the election manifesto, the PML-N’s government is moving at a snail’s pace. Recently the government has used the excuse of dharna for the slow progress however it would be for PML-N to decide whether it wants to be counted among those who fabricate excuses and hide behind this or that expediency, or those who make miracles despite all the odds and challenges that raise their heads to distract it and divide its attention!
PRIME is an independent think tank based in Islamabad advocating free market economic policy reforms through research, training and outreach. Last year, it published Economic Freedom of the World Report (Pakistan Edition). This current report is being issued with support from Center for International Private Enterprise.
For Media Inquires:
Ali Salman, Executive Director, PRIME (Cell: 0301 845 1179)