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Friday, February 16, 2024

Are we finally witnessing a change in Pakistan under PTI?

According to Fahad Qureshi, who is an expert in national politics, the PTI government has played a crucial role in leading Pakistan to economic recovery through important initiatives, such as Ehsaas Program.

In the past couple of weeks, everything seems to be going in the right direction. It’s been a hard two and half years for the PTI government as they took charge when Pakistan was on the verge of bankruptcy, expensive contracts in the energy sector, and no industry growth in the economy.

One year since the PTI government came into power, a corona pandemic hit Pakistan hard, and then obviously how can anyone forget the situation on borders with India in between all that fuss. It was indeed a rough start for anyone coming into power for the first time.

Read more: PTI: Journey of success, failures and resilience

Imran Khan must have had sleepless nights to get things in order or at least to get in the right direction. It took several changes in cabinet and bureaucracy to finalize a team worth delivering. Well, we can expect changes till the last day of PTI’s elected term, but it doesn’t matter as long as things are getting better and a normal Pakistani is being helped.

Comparing economic growth

For the PTI government to remain in the public’s favorite circle there was only one way and that was to turn around the economy of Pakistan. Having said that, many predicted failure and some are still keen to see the government failing on the economic front.

There is no option for PTI to be in power other than getting the economy on track. It was a hard road but some hard decisions made it possible to sit on the train of recovery.

Read more: No Free Lunch – Economy under PTI government?

Economists and critics of the government were blaming the PTI Finance team for massive debt in the first year, creating a narrative that PML-N left GDP above 5%. The same economist criticized the government for not going to the IMF firsthand.

The question arises that if GDP of 5% was sustainable and Pakistan’s economy was doing fine, then why PTI should’ve gone to IMF straight away? It is mainly because everyone knew that false numbers were shown by PML-N through its not-so-sustainable GDP.

Read more: Pakistan to post 4.5% GDP growth rate this year, claims Aqeel Karim

PML-N managed dollars by giving subsidies, and they printed extra cash (artificial economy). Also, the heavy contracts they did to end the power crises actually became a headache for the economy. The PML-N government did end the power crisis but at the cost of heavy payments without thinking or planning for the next few years.

Pakistan on road to recovery?

On this road to recovery, we are standing at 3.94% GDP and some economists feel it could be over 4% if the last 2 months also get included in this data. Firstly, the Ehsas Program was a great initiative as it helped in cash flow towards people from different segments. It helped the vulnerable people of our society and kept the economic activity going at some level.

Secondly, the decision to keep running industries at full flow for 24 hours during Corona was a timely and brave decision. Where India and Bangladesh were in the space of complete lockdown and industries were shut, Pakistan grabbed onto the opportunity and opened industries for 24 hours.

Read more: World Bank grants $600 million for expansion of Ehsaas Program

Pakistan started to receive orders from around the world and many companies that were hesitant to give orders to Pakistan started to find it as their only option for timely deliveries. This helped Pakistan to gain confidence in multinational companies. There was also a point that the industry was short of labor.

The third point is the housing sector. Even though a lot of work still has to be done on the housing sector as it has amazing potential to grow massively, nevertheless packages given to the housing sector and current construction for government-owned housing schemes also helped in generating economic activity.

Around 30 small and medium industries are affiliated with the housing sector. Current cement sale and boost in PSX is an indicator of investors’ confidence in these decisions.

Read more: Housing, construction finance shows robust growth, SBP

Equal opportunity for all

The fourth point is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Chinese authorities are outsourcing a huge number of jobs that are affiliated with CPEC and this will be a great opportunity to create jobs for youth.

Projects like CPEC and the Housing sector are extremely beneficial not only because many industries are linked with it but also because of its range. It will be spread everywhere in the country, wealth creation, economic activities, and giving jobs will be happening all over and not just in one particular big city. The spread will allow people from smaller areas to get equal opportunity.

Read more: CPEC’s Role in Skill Development of Pakistan’s Youth

What the current government should focus on is renegotiating the heavy contract and payments that need to be done in the coming years. If the government can take the time frame of these payments to 5 years or 10 years, it can be a massive relief for the economy, as the government will be in a position to generate money through different means.

Whether it’s the IMF, World Bank, or IPPS, renegotiations are what the government should be focused on.

Fahad Qureshi is an MPhil scholar, analyst, and journalist. He has expertise in national and international politics. The writer can be reached at thefahadqureshi@gmail.com.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.