Charter of the economy absent from the terms of reference of the EAC

CARACHI:

Welcoming the establishment of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), the business advocacy group Pakistan Business Council (PBC) pointed out that trade and industry ministers have not been included in the council and that it also lacks representatives from sectors such as agriculture, IT, telecoms and startups.

“While reviewing the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the EAC, we noticed that it lacked the development of a common charter of the economy,” said PBC CEO Ehsan A Malik , in a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

PBC believes that fundamental reforms cannot be implemented without multiparty consensus on the economy. Moreover, without a healthy economy, public welfare goals cannot be achieved.

PBC has developed a framework for the Economy Charter. “PBC looks forward to working with you and the EAC,” he added. Another critical aspect of economics, which is not explicitly covered in the ToR, is agronomy.

Agricultural production is essential for food security and also has a significant impact on the current account and inflation. “We recommend that this sector, which is also a major source of employment and rural well-being, be represented in the EAC.”

The EAC has leading business leaders from the private sector, who have valuable knowledge of economics. “However, we noted that there is no representation from the IT services, start-ups and telecommunications sectors. These are companies of the future and their recommendations would be invaluable for the sustainability of the economy.

“The terms of reference do not explicitly cover exports. The EAC also does not include the Minister of Trade or Industry,” Malik said in the letter, which was also sent to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.

Pakistan’s main challenge is to develop and diversify its exports. “We recommend that trade and industry ministers be included in the EAC. This would also be useful in analyzing the costs and benefits of import protection, as the National Tariff Commission falls under the Ministry of Commerce.

PBC prepared recommendations for the National Charter for Exports and for the reindustrialization of the country as well as for the contours of a new industrial policy.

The PBC hopes that through the EAC the government will also have the opportunity to initiate some of the fundamental energy reforms, broaden the tax base, address losses and privatization of public enterprises, to improve the management of the public debt and to cope with the increase in pension liabilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30and2022.

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