In a dynamic policy dialogue titled “Building a Resilient Pakistan Economy: A Call to Action,” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) under the National Network of Economic Think-Tanks, prominent voices came together to discuss the imperative need for economic reforms in Pakistan.
This article explores the insights and recommendations shared during this dialogue, shedding light on how think tanks like SDPI are driving the reform agenda to shape a more robust and prosperous economic future for Pakistan.
Collaborative Support for Economic Reforms
Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director of SDPI, highlighted the commitment of SDPI and the National Network of Economic Think-Tanks to support economic reforms. The think tanks are dedicated to collaborating with upcoming governments, the public sector, and the private sector to advance an economic reform agenda. The focus is on developing policy recommendations that align with reform objectives, keep international commitments like the IMF program on track, and establish a medium-term development agenda.
Tackling Rampant Inflation
One of the pressing issues discussed during the dialogue was rampant inflation and its adverse social and economic impacts. Dr. Ahmed stressed the importance of innovative solutions in social protection policies to alleviate the burden on the most vulnerable segments of society. Additionally, leveraging regional agricultural trade to counter regional food inflation was proposed as a strategic approach.
Empowering SMEs, Freelancers, and Exports
To harness the potential of Pakistan’s SMEs, freelancers, and exports, effective strategies and collaboration with investors are crucial. Dr. Ahmed highlighted the opportunities presented by competitive prices due to rupee depreciation. This collaboration aims to create an enabling environment for these sectors, thereby contributing to economic growth.
Addressing Cross-Border Smuggling and Monetary Policy
Adil Nakhoda, Assistant Professor at IBA, emphasized the need to address cross-border smuggling, make necessary monetary policy changes to enhance resilience against currency fluctuations, and ensure the viability of the energy sector. Adjustments in accordance with the IMF deal were deemed necessary to stabilize the economic landscape.
Equal Opportunities and Regulatory Reforms
Wajid Iqbal, CEO of the Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers, highlighted the importance of improving the structure of regulatory bodies and enhancing their human development capacity to meet global standards. He called for addressing unequal preferences and subsidies in various economic sectors to provide equal opportunities to all stakeholders.
Venture Capital for SMEs
Sumera Abbassi, CEO of TiE Islamabad, stressed the active role of venture capital funds in mobilizing finances for SMEs. She advocated for investor education programs to raise awareness about investment potential in Pakistan. Encouraging high-net-worth individuals and private companies to increase investment was also recommended.
Rectifying Structural Inefficiencies
Ahad Nazir, Head of the Centre for Private Sector Engagement at SDPI, highlighted structural inefficiencies and the non-productive use of resources, particularly women’s labor. He emphasized the need to rectify these issues to boost economic productivity.
Boosting Industrial Development and Agriculture
Dr. Abdul Salam Lodhi, Professor of Economics at BUITEMS, called for restructuring economic policy to promote industrial development and sustainable, self-sufficient agriculture. He stressed the importance of creating an enabling environment for industries and exports through effective governance.
Empowering Women in the Informal Economy
Dr. Saima, a professor at GCU Lahore, highlighted that a significant portion of Pakistan’s informal economy relies on women’s labor. She emphasized the need to address cultural barriers, increase financial access, enhance business ecosystem awareness, and empower women economically.
Simplifying Regulatory Frameworks
Qurat-ul-Ain, CEO of Ain Consulting Ltd., raised concerns about regulatory policy inconsistencies and complexities, along with political uncertainty affecting the business environment. She called for simplifying regulatory frameworks to support the growth of startups and reduce excessive state control on export markets.
The policy dialogue organized by SDPI and the National Network of Economic Think-Tanks serves as a crucial platform for addressing Pakistan’s economic challenges and advancing reform initiatives. The insights and recommendations presented by experts highlight the urgency of collaborative efforts involving governments, think tanks, the private sector, and civil society to usher in a new era of economic stability, growth, and inclusivity for Pakistan. Through thoughtful reforms and strategic actions, Pakistan can overcome its economic hurdles and forge a path toward sustained prosperity.