ADDRESSING a groundbreaking ceremony of Tarbela hydropower fifth expansion project, the prime minister said water reservoir projects had not been constructed in the past due to lack of long-term planning. In fact, the statement is valid for other infrastructure, construction and economic projects as well. In the past, the implementation of the five-year economic plans has played a crucial role in the development of the country.

The first (1955-60) and the second (1960-65) five-year plans are still referred to as the roadmap adopted by certain countries which subsequently achieved rapid economic progress within a short span of time.

Sadly, the pattern of planning in Pakistan was altered in 1998 and since then the nation has not seen any integrated and comprehensive long-term national plan. Indeed, it suited the agenda of successive governments to have evolved short-term plans or ‘visions’.

Formulation and implementation of short-term development plans have undoubtedly resulted in slow economic progress, and have failed to achieve relevant goals in agriculture, investment and other sectors.

Another factor for poor planning is that the persons appointed as the key planner i.e. deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, were not hired on professional merit, though exceptions are always there.

Iconic figures in the nation’s economic history were generally succeeded by mediocre bureaucrats and politicians without relevant qualifications or expe-rience to hold their own while in office.

Hussain Siddiqui
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021

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