ONE thing that the government-in-waiting can learn from the previous rulers is to exercise caution in making promises and setting targets as the vibrant electronic media is quick to show clips of promises made. The performance of the previous government against the targets set in Vision 2025 is shown here as an illustration of how the PTI’s performance can be evaluated five years hence.

Vision 2025 was rolled out by PML-N government in early 2014. The 12-year vision, which has seven pillars, sets several quantitative targets under each pillar. The PML-N government had four and a half years to work towards the targets. Assuming progress at a linear rate, over a third of the goals should have been met by the end of the PML-N’s tenure in May 2018. Allowing for the take-off period, let us reduce the progress required to 30 per cent and examine performance against this yardstick.

The Vision envisages a literacy rate of 90pc and a primary school enrolment rate of 100pc by 2025. The Economic Survey showed a literacy rate of 60pc in June 2013 at the beginning of the PML-N’s tenure. The latest survey reports the literacy rate at 58pc in June 2016. The survey also shows a decline of three percentage points in gross enrolment from June 2013. The figures for June 2018, when available, will at best show that the losses have been recouped. Thus progress towards achieving targets of literacy and enrolment was at best zero during the PML-N’s tenure — and remember ‘human capital’ is the first pillar of Vision 2025.

The Vision seeks to double electricity generation capacity to 42,000 megawatts by 2025. With substantial addition during the last five years, this seems possible, but at what cost to the exchequer and the environment? The Vision commits to reducing generation costs by 25pc through improving the generation mix, ie increase in share of power from hydro and renewable resources.

There are lessons to draw from not meeting goals.

By June 2013, as reported in the latest survey, the installed generation capacity was: thermal power 15,289 MW and the rest of the sources (hydro, nuclear and renewable) 7,523 MW. This yields a generation mix of 67:33 (67pc being thermal). By February 2018, the generation mix was still 67:33 (with 19,816 MW coming from thermal sources and 9,757 MW from the rest of the sources). The generation mix remained static but electricity tariffs increased significantly. This shows that the generation cost has increased, going against the target of achieving a decrease.

As against the recently advertised claim of 11,000 MW of additional generation, the Economic Survey 2017-18 reports an addition of 6,761 MW in installed generation capacity during the PML-N’s tenure. The survey mentions that projects of over 12,000 MW have been initiated but maintains a studied silence on the date of their completion.

The plan envisages that Pakistan will be among the 25 largest economies by 2025 leading to an upper- and middle-income status for its citizens. According to the World Bank’s classification of countries in keeping with income levels, Pakistan was among the low- to middle-income countries at the start of the PML-N’s tenure and that status has not changed. As per the International Monetary Fund’s ranking of countries based on GDP per capita (PPP basis) Pakistan was ranked 135 out of 187 countries in 2017. So moving to the 25th rank on a per capita basis is a far cry even in the distant future let alone by 2025.

The Vision envisages an increase in exports from $25 billion to $150bn annually — that is, an increase of $125bn each year, or 500 pc, by 2025. The 30pc export target set in the Vision works out to $56bn. Exports, which were $22.7bn during 11 months of 2017-18, may barely touch the figure of $25bn when the figures for June 2018 are released. If the goal set out with regard to exports in the Vision is to be achieved, exports in 2017-18 should be worth around $56bn instead of just $25bn.

It is not possible to comment here on each and every target set in the Vision for want of space; however, those who have kept abreast of the developments know well that not enough progress has been made during the PML-N’s tenure to achieve the targets.

These include: increasing water storage capacity to 90 days of the required level, reducing electricity distribution losses by 10pc, increasing the number of tourists to two million, tripling labour and capital productivity, bringing down the numbers of food-insecure people from 60pc to 30pc, decreasing the incidence of diarrhoea, hepatitis, diabetes and heart disease by 50pc, increasing female labour force participation by 21 percentage points, and providing clean drinking water for all Pakistanis by 2025.

The writer is dean, Air University School of Management, and is associated with the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2018


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