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ISLAMABAD: A public policy think tank has termed the current regime of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) as below average in terms of overall economic performance of the government, passing them with a mere 51 percent, for the period between January to March, this year.
According to the tracking report entitled “Losing the steam”, which was launched on Thursday by the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), PML-N’s performance on the economic front was respectable but the economic progress has lost steam.
PRIME is a public policy think tank, based in Islamabad, advocating the market economy policy reforms through research, outreach and advocacy. This tracking report is released by PRIME on a quarterly basis.
The report tracks the implementation of the economic agenda, as per the party’s own manifesto, with the help of a scorecard which allocates the scores between ranges of zero to ten, in 91 components reflecting the economic promises made in three areas; economic revival, energy security, and social protection.
The performance indicators are based on official data released by government functionaries.
The first component under economic revival is GDP growth, which PML-N promised to increase from three percent to over six percent. The score of 5.5 out of 10 was awarded here, after considering the assessments of the State Bank of Pakistan, International Monetary Fund and various sub-components, such as investment in infrastructure and energy projects.
An average score of 4.25 was assigned to the component regarding creation of job opportunities, which had two sub-components, including the prime minister’s youth loan scheme.
The component of tax reforms earned an average score of only 1.75, as out of 15 sub-components, only six were awarded a score, while rest of the nine were left out as no development had taken place in their domains.
Zero points were credited to the government with regards to the elimination of circular debt, which has again surged to around Rs300 billion.
“The government paid around Rs450 billion to clear the circular debt soon after assuming office, but circular debt is back, despite the much talked about energy sector reforms,” PRIME executive director, Ali Salman said.
The report also awarded a low grade to the government on privatisation of state-owned enterprises, as not much has been achieved in this regard.
“The key issues related to turning around the loss making enterprises is the appointment of an independent and profession board, and the performance indicator is zero, as nothing much has been done in this regard,” Mr Salman said.
He said that the economic inefficiency cost was around Rs1,000 billion, annually, and the government did not seem to have any specific programme to control it.
“The performance of regulatory bodies has been negligible in the January to March quarter,” he added.
With regards to energy security, the report gives the PML-N government a score of 4.34, which is 0.18 points better than the score in the previous quarter. The report says that the performance of the government has improved, including the initiation of the Thar coalfields.
The report has assigned a score of 7 for the component regarding the development of the Thar coalfields and setting up of at least 5,000MW of new coal-fired power plants, under the PPP model, in Sindh.
In the component related to priority to import gas, the score was 2, largely owing to the uncertainty overshadowing pipeline negotiations.
In the section of social protection, the average score was 6.5, which is better compared to the last report which awarded 6.0 in this section.
The report accredits the high score in social protection segment to the continuation of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The scorecard also appreciates the smooth functions of the utility stores.