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ARTICLE: Presiding over a meeting of the Economic think tank early this week, Prime Minister Imran Khan called for 'out of the box solutions' to position the country's economic growth, hit by coronavirus that is adversely affecting Pakistan as well as the global economy.

The economic think tank, comprising key ministers and specialists, that includes of Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Dr Reza Baqir and former finance secretary Dr. Waqar Masood Khan besides others, made suggestions on banking and finance. It also mulled over the steps aimed at improving the Ehsaas programme and extending its scope for poverty alleviation, providing facilities to small and medium enterprises besides providing assistance to the poor through targeted subsidies.

Under focus of the think tank also came the roll-out of the package earlier announced for construction and housing sector to spur the country's fragile economy.

The think tank consists of worthy and knowledgeable personalities of the country and their endeavours are no doubt sincere. However, the delivery is much of routine nature and this may at best enable the economy to sail through with minor incremental growth. But what the Prime Minister perhaps perceived by advocating 'out of the box solutions' is to make country's economy to move forward in leaps and bounds.

'Out of the box solutions' mean game-changing solutions engineered and conceived by revolutionary minds, with delivery on ground by daring managers to make things happen - at all costs.

Unfortunately, however, neither the personnel nor enabling the environment to conceive and unleash dramatic solutions on the ground is available within the ranks of the government. Decades of mismanagement of the country's economy, the near collapse of our social fabric, compromised bureaucracy, irresponsible and self-centred conduct of our legislators or politicians have all contributed toward bringing the nation to its present state where the fault lines are too deep to be addressed with business as usual that unfortunately remains in vogue at present.

With the state governance checkmated by threatening demands of coalition partners, activism pillars of state, legislators and politicians across the political divide embroiled in aimless point-scoring on the floor of the legislatures under full glare of the media and with all this happening incessantly, the options available to the Prime Minister to bring around a dramatic change and come up with out of the box solutions is very limited. Time is running out fast. The Prime Minister - if he means business - has to bring about drastic changes in the mode of governance and in his team to achieve dramatic results.

The country is undoubtedly confronted with serious issues - internally and across its borders. In a dramatic development, global dynamics across all our borders are fast changing in relation to China-Iran alignment, US troops pullout from Afghanistan, protracted China-India standoff. There will be further economic and political alignments in the region. Countries with a stable economy will have better bargaining chips. Business as usual is an unworthy option. Out of the box solutions followed by their uncompromised and focused implementation on ground are the way forward.

(The writer is former President, Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020