Entrepreneurs in Pakistan are second to none with numerous having earned recognition and respect internationally. Unfortunately, and due to precarious financial conditions, many are now venturing out; not to mention the exodus of skilled workers in search of better prospects elsewhere.

To reverse this unfortunate trend and to regain the relevance the country once enjoyed, the key is to focus and immediately tackle some basic issues that need to be addressed before it’s too late.

75 years in a nation’s history are not too long but long enough to set the direction right. Foremost is to decide upon the type of political system that will best suit Pakistan. Repeated trial and error have experienced parliamentary democracy, dismissal of elected governments, trial of prime ministers, military takeovers, martial laws and even controlled governance through referendums and in the process have witnessed assassinations, murders, massive and prolonged judicial trials and either jailing or exiling of popular political leaders.

It’s time for us to walk the talk!—I

All this has led to confusion and lack of trust in the system, which is hindering the basic element responsible for any country’s progress, and which is economic prosperity. Both local and foreign investors expect long-term stability to be able get dividends on their investments.

Currently, the foreign investors who came and earlier made Pakistan their choice are now pulling out. To them a conducive environment constitute long-term sustaining policies, availability of trained and productive labour, necessary infrastructure and above all a bureaucracy to facilitate them rather than be a source of hindrance. What were once the hallmark elements of Pakistan’s economic progress are now being written in their wish list.

In other words, the recipe to regain our lost relevance is as follows:

  • Reduce decision making time by reducing the involvement of bureaucracy to the minimum level. If this means merging of departments or even ministries, it should happen expeditiously. Japan has a ministry called METI which stands for Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry.

In other words, 3 operating under one roof. No wonder then Japanese economy is the fourth-largest in the world by nominal GDP and also the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). Japan is a member of both the G7 and G20. According to the IMF, the country’s per capita GDP (PPP) is $52,120.

An achievement by a country which was virtually destroyed in a war and swiftly regained its position through relevant policies and its effective implementation. Japan is now one of the largest and most developed economies in the world. It has a well-educated, industrious workforce and its large, affluent population makes it one of the world’s biggest consumer markets.

  • Increase Public-Private Partnership as neither without the other can be successful no matter how good the intentions are.

  • Government concentrates on governance rather than itself managing business. Handover State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) to the private sector to manage and run. Results will surprise all as done and being witnessed in the banking sector presently.

  • Empower regulatory bodies with heads who are relevant professionals selected on pure merit and give them a free hand to operate their institutions. This will reduce inefficiency and corruption, leading to transparency and the adoption of fair practices by the ones being regulated.

  • Rationalize taxation system with minimum involvement of the collector. Many anomalies exist, which give way for negotiations and the resultant loss is to the country. Reformed FBR accordingly is imperative.

  • Business litigation to be handled by separate courts or bodies for expeditious disposal of cases, which otherwise lingers on to the extent that the parties involved lose faith in the judicial system; the worst that can happen when economic progress is intended through investments by both local and foreign investors.

  • The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) was created with the intention of addressing most of which has been identified above. It is structured with important committees. Implementation, Execution and Apex. Focus besides others is on Agriculture, Information Technology, Minerals and Energy, the areas which Pakistan considers has great potential.

Progress is visible since the committee has assigned terms of reference including the Apex committee which is chaired by the Prime Minster and has relevant provincial and federal ministries, Provincial Chief Ministers and involving Chief of Army Staff and senior Generals by special invitation.

Decisions on economic and fiscal policies in respect of trade and investments are considered final and are to be instantly implemented. Though it has been established recently through legislation and several decisions already taken have had a positive effect, long-term working and the effectiveness filtering down is yet to be seen. At least, the long-awaited direction has been set for Pakistan to regain its lost position, at least on the economic front.

Nahin hai naumeed Iqbal apni kasht-e-veeran se,?

Zara num ho to yeh mitti bari zarkhaiz hay saqi?…..Allama Iqbal

(Concluded)

(The writer is an active member of several Bilateral Business Forums and a freelance columnist [email protected])

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Kalim Farooqui

The writer is an active member of several Bilateral Business Forums and a freelance columnist [email protected]

Comments

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KU Mar 14, 2024 11:11am
Many people have accepted the fact that in the prevailing self-beneficial system between the politicians and bureaucracy, et al., Pakistan is set on the same path as of extinct civilizations, pity.
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