Experts urge for federal, provincial coordination


‘Growth needs to be inclusive, broad-based’

LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha has said that Punjab government is doing its best to and has appropriated a large amount for development projects in province. She stated this while addressing an extension lecture session on National Macroeconomic Management & Role of Provinces organised by Punjab Economic Research Institute (PERI), Planning & Development Department at a local hotel in Lahore.

Punjab P&D Chairman Jahanzeb Khan, Finance former federal secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan, P&D Secretary Iftikhar Ali Sahoo, Dr Shujat Ali, Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) Chairman Dr Raheel Siddique, PERI Director Dr Mumtaz Anwar, Mines & Minerals Secretary Dr Muhammad Arshad and others attended the session.

Addressing the lecture session, Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus thanked Dr Waqar Masood Khan for providing a comprehensive analysis of the roles of the provincial and federal governments. She appreciated how he competently highlighted the challenges being faced by the government in the matters of policymaking. Consequently, she was hopeful that the centre would continue to facilitate the provincial governments in achieving an equitable social and economic prosperity in their respective provinces. She said that these advancements would be reflected in the key economic indicators of the country which is and should be the ultimate goal. She added that given the economic history of the country as presented today, important lessons need to be learnt, the most vital being that growth needs to inclusive and broad based. The finance minister was of the opinion that real sectors such as agriculture and industry are the drivers of sustained growth.

Punjab P&D Chairman Jehanzeb Khan stated that macroeconomic management was one aspect wherein the provincial and the federal government needed to be in complete harmony. This is because policies with respect to interest rate, import-exports, import duty, and taxes (most prominently the sales tax) are being formulated at the centre, he said. He was hopeful that this lecture would offer an insight into both the inter-provincial and the federal-provincial dynamics. He also expressed his concerns regarding how external factors cause economic volatility, as a result of which policies cease to remain effective. He concluded by stressing on the fact that the provincial governments are here to complement the federal governments and that its’ main aim is to augment the growth of the country by ensuring good governance in the province.

At the lecture session, renowned macroeconomist Dr Waqar Masood Khan presented the key findings of his paper on economic management. He described how various forms of economic models adopted by different governments have fared. It was clearly explained as to how both nationalisation and denationalisation affected the economy. The economic affairs were analysed in the context of different government tenures. He highlighted the various achievements of these governments that helped place Pakistan on the right track. These included: the new NFC Award, 18th Amendment, successful implementation of 3-Year IMF program, and CPEC. Nonetheless, the country has seen quite a few policy failures as well causing the growth to be the lowest, averaging less than 3% in five years and inflation at an average of 12% (during Gilani-Ashraf government). He also observed that there are still problems in the power sector and that the outstanding circular debt is as high as it was in 2013 under the current government rule. Apart from this, he discussed the importance of provincial governments in matters pertaining to education, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure, and other social sectors. He was of the view that after the 18th Amendment, the authority of provincial governments has increased substantially. Given this, he felt that the balance between needs of federal and provincial as well as the mechanics of an efficient federation have been compromised. According to him, without provincial consent and participation, economic reforms and fiscal adjustment wouldn’t be impossible. He concluded the lecture by emphasising the need for federal and provincial coordination and terming it as imperative both in setting the objectives and then achieving them.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Dr Mumtaz Anwar, who is director of PERI, informed the participants about the efforts being made by PERI in bringing together the academicians, practitioners and government officials and giving them an opportunity to share their experiences and insights that can help achieve economic well-being. PERI has played an instrumental role in providing socio-economic insight using evidence based research on national and provincial issues, he disclosed.