Dr. Ishrat Husain, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms & Austerity has said that once macroeconomic stability is achieved and maintained, the next step is to resume the path for socially inclusive economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction. This was stated by Dr. Ishrat Husain during his address at a Public Talk on ‘Pakistan’s Macro Economy: Current Situation and the Way Forward’ organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) under its Distinguished Lecture Series here on Thursday, which was also attended by policy makers, diplomats, academics and students were present on the occasion. Dr. Ishrat said that for the first 4 decades after independence, Pakistan was among the fastest growing economies in the developing world, with a higher GDP and per capita income than its powerful neighbour India. But since 1990s, tables have turned. India and even Bangladesh have surpassed Pakistan not only in per capita income, GDP growth, HDI indicators, but has become one of the fastest growing economy in the world. He added that the main reason for this reversal in fortune is that Pakistan’s institutions of governance which brought about spectacular results in the first 40 years of its creation have decayed and become dysfunctional. Speaking about the current economic situation, he said that a question which needs answering is whether there has been an appetite for deep-rooted difficult reforms and political reforms and political ownership of these reforms?. Dr. Husain said that the government is trying to improve the current economic situation through macroeconomic stability and its socio-economic uplift programs like Ehsaas. But the benefits to the common citizens would be gradually discernible, with resumption of socially inclusive economic growth. But for that, the state, civil society and markets need to work together.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI said that a sound economy is central to good governance and stability of a state. As a nation, we are earning less and spending more. Hence, we end up with high fiscal deficits. We are also familiar with the other deficit, the current account deficit – buying from abroad more than selling abroad. The present government has rightly accorded top priority to re-setting our economy. One recognizes that this is a heavy agenda. Stabilizing economy and pulling it out of such mammoth challenges is not easy, but, there is no short cut either.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG, ISSI, in his concluding remarks stated that Dr. Ishrat Husain has articulated very well his views on Pakistan economy by giving an all-round picture of where it stands and the way forward.