The government, after much speculation, has presented its four-year economic plan. The plan at this point lacks numbers and figures as they are waiting for the programme to be finalised with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Once that is ensured and the preliminary plan is debated in the parliament, the government will disclose how they plan to achieve the highest economic growth in 15 years by 2023. The major indications of policy indicate the government’s vision beyond their tenure and how Pakistan now needs to focus more on sustainable development, which has not been the prerogative of several successive governments in the country.

Finance Minister Asad Umar pointed out that the loans along with the control on the import bill have helped the economy. The pressures of inflation and lower tax collection pushed the government to take stringent measures which have allowed the economy to now enter the stabilisation phase which will last another year and a half, after which the economy will bear fruits. The government’s long term vision looks good on paper because it is not only working to separate the functions of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the tax policy committee, but it is also focusing on improving state-owned enterprises along with greater autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in matters of value of the rupee.

The trade deficit in the country has gone down by 14 percent in nine months. The impact of the artificially maintained exchange rate was being faced by farmers and exporters. Local industry, no matter what its scale, should be given preferential treatment so that local investment can increase. While the efforts of the government to bridge this gap should be appreciated, the government also needs to focus on the immediate effects of these measures and the methodology they can adapt to lower the impact. Small scale businesses are witnessing a steady loss in revenue due to the rising costs of production in the country. At the same time, the possibility of the tax amnesty scheme bearing fruits is less based on previous attempts. This will only increase the burden on the current taxpayers. Management by the FBR also needs to improve so that traditional corruption in tax matters can be evaded.a