Islamabad-based Economic Research Think Tank PRIME Institute has published its 9th Government Policy Scorecard. The report was unveiled to the Press at the Marriott in Islamabad on the 19th of July, Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion, President RCCI, Raja Amir Iqbal said that the government is overselling the benefits of CPEC to hide its failures. He said that the exports of Pakistan have shrunk to below $18 billion. The cost of doing business has surged during the past couple of years.
He said that we are being told that FDI in Pakistan is increasing on the back of machinery imports for CPEC projects. But those imports are not earning Pakistan any custom duties, transit fees, taxes etc.
Senior political economist Dr. Khalil Ahmed commented that the overall score of 5.05 out of 10 that the government has achieved should not be seen as a glass half full. A fifty percent score simply means under-performance. In reality, the government has not even achieved fifty percent of its manifesto promises.
Ali Kemal from PIDE, commenting on the findings of the report said that the debate should not have been today whether the glass is half empty or half full. After four and a half years, it should have been at the very least, a glass almost full.
Summing up the debate, executive director- PRIME Institute, Ali Salman said that the government has faltered after making initial progress; it has lost the opportunity it got after a majority in the national assembly. As this is the final year before elections, nothing serious may be expected but what impresses the voters.
According to the report, the economic performance of the PML-N led Federal Government has been weak in the first half of 2017, especially in the area of economic revival. Out of a total of 89 targets set by the PML-N in its political manifesto, only 6 have been achieved till now. In contrast, the government has failed to even initiate work on 10 of these targets. There are 7 such targets, where progress has actually reversed.
PRIME Institute’s report this time awarded a score of 4.66 out of 10 in the area of Economic Revival. This was due largely to a failure in addressing rising public expenditure (austerity), and VIP culture. The government has failed to curb the losses incurred by State-owned Enterprises and has been unable to eliminate circular debt which has again risen to Rs. 401bn. The worst performing policy area was that of the regulatory environment, which for the second time has received a score of zero out of ten. The government also failed to show any improvement in the areas of tax reform, monetary policy, and regional trade reform, however, performed better in Capital and Financial Markets reform.
The think tank has awarded an overall score of 5.43 out of 10 to the government in the area of energy security. The reason behind this increase include developments such as the setting up of coal and LNG import terminals and the ongoing work on alternative energy power plants under the CPEC. However, the think tank pointed out that NEPRA was fast losing its autonomy in favor of discretionary regulation, and this would have long term negative consequences.
Since the elections of May 2013, the incumbent regime has improved its overall score from 3.66 to 5.05, an overall average score of 4.50 over four years. Since taking over, the government has seen steady success towards energy security (Average score of 4.71 over four years) but has performed unreliably in economic revival policies (Average score of 4.28 over four years).
The PRIME Institute Government Policy Scorecard a biannual report (6 monthly) which ranks the Federal government’s economic performance by analyzing 89 policy components in the broad areas of Economic Revival and Energy Security.