Public policy in Pakistan and its implications on GDP

By: Ahmed Sani

Public policy plays indispensible role in socio-economic and political development of a country. Contrary, in Pakistan public policies are vehemently exploited by political instability, civil military chaos, love and hate relationship with western powers, lack of technocratic expertise and deteriorating relationship with neighboring countries. Unfortunately, these events shape the fate of Pakistan economically, politically and socially in a despicable way.

Pakistan since 1947 bears the burden of corrupt policies which serve the interest of ruling few. Ironically, public policy in Pakistan leave a vast gap in development and this gap is filled with corrupt politicians, obsolete technology, and irrelevant indulgence in wars.

Public policy is directly proportional to economic growth. Government policies related to health, education, infrastructure and investment are deemed as crucial for the development of state. Global north emphasizes more on educational policies to enhance creativity of its people, ultimately it leads to innovation. Some pundit considered USA brain drain policy the only reason of its perpetual flourishing economy.

Government policies which pave the way for global investment or encouraging its own citizen, improvement in health services and policies which produce skilled human resource will surely have positive impacts on economic development of a country.

Pakistan strategic position and rivalry with neighboring countries intrinsically shape Pakistan public policy .Pakistan faces animosity from its neighboring countries since independence which ultimately strengthen military institutions and undermine political institutions.

Ishtiaq Ahmed author of book “Pakistan a Garrison State” (1947-2011) explicitly decipher in his book military domination in economic affairs and erosion of individual freedom. Military plays an imperative role and dominate Pakistan Public Policy whether it is economic, defense or foreign policy, considered one of the formidable flaws and impediment in economic prosperity of Pakistan. If institutions don’t process in their confined constitutionally defined space the repercussions will be disastrous. Similarly, in Pakistan institutions intermingle with each other and disrespect sovereignty of other.

Prior 2011, Pakistan was at 134 out of 182 in corruption perception index ranking. Consequently, corrupt and short sighted policies surrounded Pakistan in economic catastrophe. Politicization of policies neglect basic necessities like health and education sector, they peruse their own political agenda which only benefits ruling few of our country.

Corruption is deeply entrenched in flesh of Pakistan the only reason is biased accountability, political revenge and politicization of anti-corruption watchdogs. According to the Basel Institute’s independent, data-based index of the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) around the world. The country’s risk score rose from 6.45 to 7.66 out of 10, where 10 equals the highest assessed risk of ML/TF.

Obsolete technology and technocrats is also one of the reasons why Pakistan lacks in policy making. In Pakistan, policy making are mostly done by bureaucrats rather than policy makers. Paradoxically, they prefer isomorphic mimicry despite the fact every country have its own norms, values and culture.  Once Pakistan sent engineers to France for acquisition of technical expertise, they leant all along French style of underpasses. When they return to Pakistan they constructed two underpasses after completion of it they realized that French had right hand driving unlike Pakistan.

Reforms in some of our public institutions become indispensible to enhance economic growth. Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is one of crucial public institution which requires genuine reforms. According to FBR, only 1% Pakistani pays taxes, so only 1% stream is bearing the burden of whole Pakistan. However, tax bracket must be amplified. As per former chairman FBR Shabar Zaidi Pakistan tax potential is more than Rs. 10 trillion and collection made were only Rs. 4.963 trillion in 2019-2020.

Pakistan performance in improving its GDP is very contemptuous. According to World Bank average growth rate of Pakistan GDP for last decade is 4%, though India sustains its average growth rate at 6% and Bangladesh at 7%. Sustainable policies are prerequisite for sustainable economic growth; short sighted and corrupt policies have kept Pakistan in vicious circle.

Pakistan economic vulnerability compels it to urge financial assistance from International organizations or from supper power like China and USA. Repercussions to seek financial assistance from USA proved cumbersome for Pakistan for example unnecessary indulgence in wars and training and advocating cause of afghan Taliban. Later, Taliban become a potential thread for Pakistan politically and economically and U.S country report on terrorism describes Pakistan as “Terrorist safe heaven”. Global community portray Pakistan image as terrorist state, this is what Pakistan gets in return “International disgrace”.

International organizations (IMF, World Bank) dictation and their influence at our local policies also derail Pakistan from the path of sustainable growth. Hyperinflation, heavy taxes and very so often secrete covenant were signed by government which can harm national sovereignty of a country.

For expedient recovery Pakistan have to discern the potential of good Public policies. Government ought to establish think tanks for Public policy research, while considering our own norms, values and culture. Institution can only perform at their maximum outcome, only when they work at their confined domain regarding honor of other state institutions.

Fiscal policy and monetary policy will be absolutely free from foreign influence. Government should emphasize on education and health policy rather building roads and other short sighted development project for their own political agendas. Ostensibly, Pakistan is economically less develop and vulnerable country, so government must have utilize its limited resources on rudimental which support the edifice of a strong nation.

Writer is a public policy student at National Defense Univeristy Islamabad.

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