EconFest by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)

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ISLAMABAD, MAR 11: /DNA/ – Speaking at PIDE’s first-ever EconFest, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, the Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives said that if you have a dream and the will, this country will help you achieve your dreams but you need to put in a lot of hard work. He was deliberating on what ails Pakistan and “What Can Turnaround Pakistan?” For public service, you need conviction and the desire to help your country and people. He said that if there is a conflict in society, no policy will be successful. Pakistan’s 75-year history shows that we made robust policies. However, we are lagging behind countries like South Korea, Turkey, and others in terms of policy consistency.
Firstly, we were on course to become the next Japan of South Asia but the 1965 war set us back. Secondly, in 1991, investment came in many sectors with the participation of the private sector but the the-then government was thrown out, which again derailed Pakistan’s economic progress. The third chance we got in the shape of CPEC. The Chinese government was very interested in investing in Pakistan but the new regime that came to power in 2018 started alleging corruption in the CPEC project, which again derailed Pakistan. the country’s interest should be not sacrificed for the sake of conflict and politics. Therefore, we must learn to collaborate and cooperate as Pakistanis to make Pakistan’s economy better.
To develop its economy, the minister said that Pakistan needs to curb tax evasion, increase tax collection, and increase its exports from around Rs. 30 billion to Rs. 100 billion in the next 5 to 8 years. Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that we also need to develop our youth’s IT skills. Moreover, the climate situation needs to be tackled. Most importantly, we need to tackle the issue of energy, which is a huge drain on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. Therefore, we need to move to renewable energy resources. The minister said that we also need to focus on equity in education and health.
Earlier, setting the stage for the two-day event, Dr Nadeem Ul Haque, Vice-Chancellor of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) said that Pakistan has been in the emergency ward of the IMF for the last many decades. He said that it is not the fault of any one government, but the economic problems have accumulated over the years. Dr Faheem Jehangir Khan, Senior Research Economist at PIDE said that we are an aid-dependent country and our appetite for aid is huge and never gets satiated. Our policies are donor-driven and we look for readymade policies to implement without relying on homegrown research and solutions. Dr Durre Nayab, Director of Research at PIDE said that Pakistan also needs to tactfully handle the problem of population, which needs urgent attention.