ISLAMABAD                 -          Economic experts on Saturday said that incumbent PTI government has failed to bring any change in economic situation of the country, which is deteriorating with the passage of time.

They noted that Pakistan’s economy is on ‘ventilator’ due to soaring budget deficit and more than double growth in imports as compared to the exports.  The experts also noted that there is no difference in economic policies of the three mainstreams political parties, PML-N, PTI and PPP. They said that poorest of the poor segment of the society is suffering a lot due to the current economic situation, which resulted in higher inflation rate, unemployment and sluggish economic activities in the country. 

The economic experts shared their view in dialogue on ‘Economic Instability and Governance: Is 2020 the year of Hope?’ The dialogue was organized by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS). According to the experts, Pakistan’s annual GDP growth is very low in the region at only around three percent as compared to 8 percent growth in Bangladesh and 5 percent in India. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s population is also growing at 2.4 percent, which means there is no increase in per capita income.

Dr Kaiser Bengali, renowned economist and former Adviser on Economic Affairs to government of Balochistan, said that Pakistan’s economy is on ‘ventilator’. The budget deficit is continuously expanding due to massive increase in expenditures and reduction in revenues.  Similarly, level of imports is double to the exports. He proposed the government to control the non-essential consumers’ imports to reduce the trade deficit. “You will find imported food stuff and shampoos of pet animals in markets, which are burden on overall import bill of the country”.

He said that government should promote industrialization in the country. “Now, we should go for industrialization”. He recommended reducing the standard General Sales Tax (GST) rate to 5 percent from existing 17 percent. Similarly, he asked for reducing the expenditures on civil as well as military sides. The government should reduce the non-development expenditures by Rs1000 billion to control its deficit. “Economy is sinking because of the non-development expenditures,” he explained.

Bengali said we never have any vision for future, as we just depend on short-run policies. Pakistan had gone to International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailout packages several times and it always enjoyed the money instead of bringing any reforms. The international lenders have not only `given you loans but the country has also to pay its price in terms of political sovereignty.

Zia Uddin, senior economic journalist, said that Pakistan would go nowhere if same economic pattern continue in next few years. He emphasized the government to spend on health and education to bring them out from the poverty. The government should focus on technical education especially in technology. He quoted China that provided education, health and housing facilities to its people to get out them from poverty.

He noted that there is no major difference in economic policies of three political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP). How the changes can come when we are following the economic policies, which are implementing in last 40 years in the country. He has also criticized the private sector of the country, which is not paying its due taxes despite getting subsidized electricity and gas supply from the government.  “Our textile industry has never made any innovation, as they only adding low-value products,” he added. 

Afhsan Subohi, economic journalist, said that incumbent government had brought change in the country, but it is not for the betterment. Economic situation is not well, as it was three to four years back. People are not reluctant to invest in the country. She further said that common people are suffering due to the current economic situation of the country. She also said that our successive governments had no vision for future. She was of the view that there is no hope for betterment in next few years.