ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) organised a conference, “Evaluations of Regulatory Authorities, Government Packages and Policies”, on Tuesday, at the Planning Commission of Pakistan.
The discussant for the conference papers was Dr Tariq Husain, who is a senior evaluation specialist and has worked in the field of development, contributed to grassroots initiatives, governance, poverty reduction, and development effectiveness.
Through this conference, Vice-Chancellor PIDE Dr Nadeemul Haque, launched the ‘PIDE Evaluation Research Cell’, that will produce rigorous research based on evaluative frameworks, of different governmental and international organizations and institutions.
At the conference, research papers based on evaluations of regulatory authorities, government packages and policies, were presented, such as the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), the Naya Pakistan Housing, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, the Prime Minister’s construction package, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, and the SME sector of Pakistan.
The paper on the CCP emphasised ensuring the enforcement of the law in sectors of the economy to make the free-market competition that will help boost the economic growth and stability of the country.
The paper also proposed that the commission’s team must also include specialists in economics, finance, commerce, law, accountancy, and public administration, rather than only bureaucrats.
The focus should be on minimum government interference, as the rules and regulations refrains people from investing in businesses.
The paper on the DRAP, proposed that more access to information and an increase in the rate of testing drugs, aimed at enhancing the quality and consumer protection, is needed. But vexing challenges such as persistent shortages of medicines and drug quality still persist. The OOP increased over time, and critical drugs suffering from shortage are often found in the black market at exorbitant prices.
The evaluation of Naya Pakistan Housing explained that in terms of housing finance, the situation in Pakistan is much worse, with Pakistan standing lower in terms of mortgage-to-GDP ratio compared to the regional and global situation. Although the State Bank has taken other necessary steps to encourage banks to expand their house financing to support the government’s housing and construction industry, banks remain reluctant. The housing programme will not start in a big way until we have a mortgage industry. That will always be a dream, if the government does not tighten refunds to protect banks from potential losses.
The evaluation of the NEPRA pressed upon that the human resource department should be closely associated with other departments dealing with primary regulatory functions for understanding these functions and the expertise required to carry out those functions. The paper also suggested decentralisation of decision-making powers for effective and speedy decisions in routine matters.
The NEPRA needs to improve its institutional capacity to supervise the electricity business; acclimatise itself with newer challenges being emerged as a result of a constantly evolving technological framework of the sector, including smart grid development, distributed generation, grid integration as well as the development of new innovative models of financing.
An evaluation of the Prime Minister’s Construction Package explained that most markets in Pakistan and archaic construction regulations have seldom been reviewed, and the PIDE has long resounded that we need to re-imagine our markets. The PIDE has also argued and the Planning Commission, in 2011, conceded this argument in Framework of Economic Growth that the path to high sustainable growth has to include a period of high-rise buildings in Pakistani cities. And these buildings have to be complex construction within cities, and not sprawl.
Speaking further of regulatory authorities, it was explained that the PEMRA as authority needs to be made independent from political and economic control of the government. The laws need to be more inclusive and the structure and design need to be changed. The PEMRA should be given liberty in the drafting of rules peculiar to the media industry. The PEMRA’s design should be altered to make it such that the media industry can be put to check yet creativity, art, and freedoms are protected.
A paper on the SMEs recommended mass awareness campaign among the SMEs, the strengthening the role of sme bank, the strengthening inter-organizational coordination, the introduction of global value chains and international production networks for SMEs, the alignment of SME policy with CPEC Long-Term Plan (2017-30,) and one-window facilitation for SMEs.
Representatives of the CCP, the PEMRA, the NEPRA, and the CDA attended the conference and shared their valuable feedback.
The conference concluded on more future research and subsequent discussion through conducting conferences on evaluations.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021