Federal govt resorting to discretionary policy regime: Think Tank

January 11, 2017
Samaa Web Desk


Islamabad-based Economic Research Think Tank PRIME Institute published its 8th Government Policy Scorecard on Wednesday, terming the economic performance of the federal government in the last two quarters as weak. 

According to the report unveiled the National Press club in Islamabad. , the economic performance of the PMLN led Federal Government has been weak in the last two-quarters of 2016, scoring an overall 4.97 out of 10. Out of a total of 89 targets set by the PMLN in its political manifesto, only 5 have been achieved till now.

In contrast, the government has failed to even initiate work on 10 of these targets. Some improvements have been observed in 25 targets, while 9 have experienced negative growth. There are 4 such targets, where progress has actually reversed.

PRIME Institute’s report this time awarded a score of 4.61 out of 10 in the area of Economic Revival. This was mainly due to underperformance of the PML-N in bringing down government borrowing, improving regulatory environment on national level and also in reviving industrial growth.

The government has failed to curb the losses incurred by State-owned Enterprises, and has been unable to check borrowing. The worst performing policy area was that of the regulatory environment, which for the first time has received a score of zero out of ten. The government also failed to show any improvement in the areas of tax reform, monetary policy, and regional trade reform, however, performed better in Capital and Financial Markets reform.

The 8th report of the think tank has awarded an overall score of 5.33 out of 10- as compared to 5.27 in 7th report- to the government in the area of energy security. The reason behind this increase is progress made by the LESCO and IESCO in going forward with Net-metering sale guarantee for small producers/consumers.

Corporatization of DISCOs, enhancement in efficiency in distribution and management of load shedding and tariff rationalization in gas sector are other areas of energy security in which government has performed better. However, the think tank pointed out that NEPRA was fast losing its autonomy in favour of discretionary regulation, and this would have long term negative consequences.

Since the elections of May 2013, the incumbent regime has improved its overall score from 3.66 to 4.97, an overall average score of 4.43 over four years.

Since taking over, the government has seen steady success towards energy security (Average score of 4.61 over four years) but has performed unreliably in economic revival policies (Average score of 4.23 over four years).  Analysts at the PRIME Institute say that the government has faltered after making initial progress, and are of the view that the policy steps taken in the last six months are indicative signs of an early election in 2017.