An official of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific has said that fast-track structural reforms are critical for investment and realise the potentials of regional trade in Pakistan. She also stressed the need for sustainable development pathways, regulatory and policy frameworks, as prerequisite to maximise the benefits of regional cooperation and integration. However, Pakistan will have to strengthen public finance and create a favourable business environment to achieve higher and robust growth. Pakistan is an integral part of Asia and must strive hard for sustainable development and reduce the multi-dimensional poverty gripping a major chunk of the population. In the absence of practical steps and structural reforms, the country’s economy hit snags on various occasions in the past and faced structural, fiscal and external imbalances. Low investment,lack of capacity to diversify local products and other evils area also there to haunt potential investors. The official said that a weak implementation track record has complicated the cost of delivery. She also pointed out flaws in the industrial set up which is largely based on the growing demand of products at local levels and has limited scope for exports.
The prospects of industry have not been fully exploited and the government is looking for other means to boost foreign exchange reserves. The official has warned against unsatisfactory export performance and trend to maintain foreign exchange reserves through borrowings. The demand for reforms is not new as the international donor agencies have already stressed the government to improve basic structure of tax collection and simplify its procedure. There is also need to minimise the role of bureaucracy in the tax assessment process. There is no dearth of the honest officials, but the presence of black sheep in vital government departments could also not be denied. The government will have to restructure taxations system to bolster not only tax revenues but also enhance the tax base.
Unfortunately, political instability has marred the working of the government departments. On one hand, inconsistent policies are taking their toll and on the other, the much needed reforms are also thousands miles away from the starting point. Instability in Afghanistan and interference in the country’s affairs by India also have negative impact on the economy of Pakistan. It is hoped the political leadership from across the board will join hands to work together for the security, safety and well being of Pakistan.