MURREE: “Next 10 years are crucial for Pakistan to set a higher growth trajectory, with challenges arising on the economic front, due to lack of political consensus,” said the Country Director, World Bank, Patchamuthu Illangovan, on Wednesday.

Addressing participants of an economic conference, Illangovan pointed out that Pakistan’s economy is facing short-term issues in the wake of rising external account deficit.

“The government had held back exchange rate for long, but recently allowed around five per cent adjustments in rupee-dollar parity. However, more flexibility is needed to move in the desired direction,” he said.

He added that the WB would issue revised growth rate targets in its upcoming report in April.

The country director stressed that improved coordination was needed among the provinces on fiscal reforms.

Meanwhile, Saqib Sheerani, a former adviser to the Ministry of Finance, highlighted that Pakistan’s ease of doing business was currently at 147, which was 128 in 2005.

“The key challenge is that the government should expand its tax base,” Sheerani said, adding that it has led to undue higher profitability in the informal sector.”

He said that as a result of government policies, the formal sector of Pakistan is facing undue fierce competition with foreign exporters as well as the local informal sector too.

Responding to queries about the long-term benefits of CPEC, Sheerani said that the government should aggressively negotiate transfer of technology and establishment of joint ventures with Chinese investors.

Speakers at the conference also highlighted that FBR was one of the institutes resisting economic reforms. Meanwhile, Chairman Board of Investment, Naeem Zamindar mentioned that the first meeting of the Steering Committee of Ease of Doing Business will be held on March 1.

The committee, chaired by the prime minister, aims to develop coordination among relevant government departments to facilitate ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2018