ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar floated the idea of “National Economic Vision” and asked all the political parties to converge on it with the aim of keeping with the pace of economic growth the incumbent government had achieved with strict fiscal measures.

By the close of his budget speech, the finance minister said that in the past 70 years of chequered political history of Pakistan at times the country could not benefit from the high growth rate due to poor economic management and malgovernance.

He asked the political parties and the whole nation to agree on some broader economic contours and not to let the economic growth slowdown.

Political and economic experts see it as a move to muster support of like-minded political players ahead of the next general elections.

Some political analysts have dubbed the current budget as the last by the incumbent PML-N government as they believe that the rulers would like to go for elections before the presentation of the next budget.

The political analysts also draw parallel between the “Charter of Democracy” and the proposed “National Economic Vision”, which on face of it sounds good but could not be put into practice as political parties have their own priorities for the budget.

Dar said; “Now we need to further strengthen our economy in order to take the economy on the path of higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

He said, “Pakistan, now needs to focus on second-generation reforms including deepening of financial market, improving ease of doing business, enforcing property rights, improving regulatory apparatus, enforcing rule of law, creating a credible and efficient judicial system and to build an institutional foundation that can sustain economic growth and give protection against external shocks.”

Dar proposed that before the next general elections the political stakeholders in the country should sit together to devise an economic strategy, which must be followed irrespective of the party that might come into power after the next general elections.

Pointing out some basic points, Dar said that the country required a growth of seven per cent and it would only be possible if there was continuity in policies.

“Over the next five years the key drivers of economic growth should be investments and the environment of competition and innovation with the private sector as an engine of growth,” he explained

The finance minister further said that for macro-economic stability fiscal consolidation would be a must, while besides rationalising the tax rate for private sector the government should take concrete measures for broadening the tax base.

He further stressed the need for announcement of new NFC award wherein a balance between the responsibilities and resources should be drawn between the centre and the provinces.

Dar further listed poverty alleviation, concrete measures in energy, food security, provision of clean drinking water, sprucing up of public sector enterprises, women empowerment, quality education for all, regional connectivity and bringing under-developed areas at par with the developed ones are some of the areas where the political stakeholders could sit together and draw a long-term and sustainable policy guideline for the governments to come.