Although not fully released yet, reports surrounding the Economic Survey 2018-2019 make for a grim telling of the country’s current economic state. The full report will be released today, a day before the upcoming annual budget, but initial figures released suggest that the government has missed all the growth targets it had outlined for the year 2018-2019.

We have to recognise that the year in question was one of transition, with the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government replaced by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in August last year – months after this past year’s budget was announced by the former government. This gives the current ruling party some leeway, however, with lofty ambitions of growth in the upcoming year alongside attempts at frugality and instituting austerity measures to decrease costs while increasing revenues implies that the government will set ambitious targets that it might fail to meet yet again in the upcoming budget.

As far as this past year is concerned, even if we take the change of government into account, the missed targets reflect a failure of the state to manage the economy efficiently. For instance, the industrial sector’s dismal growth of 1.4 per cent against an expected 7.6 per cent even though power distribution to manufacturers was made more stable points to deeper problems that the government needs to look into. Talks between the government and exporters in the textile industry have also reportedly broken down, over the state’s inability to guarantee a smooth and efficient means of reimbursement for export refund (tax refunds on goods exported to other countries) claims. With production missing all of its expected targets, how is the government planning on increasing exports to improve the country’s balance of payments? Hard economic decisions necessitated because of the IMF bailout programme are a foregone conclusion, but what is the government doing to ease the burden of the sanctions expected?

With the bleak numbers posted by all sectors of the economy a full year before the expected massive cuts in government spending in the following year, we can only expect harder times ahead. However, even if the current government only partially bears the blame for the poor showing, there is no indication of it taking any radical measures to improve the faltering economy. With ambitious plans to move the economy out of its current stagnant state, the PTI government must realise that merely announcing high growth targets in the hopes of improvement will not do; actionable plans as to how to go about meeting all targets must also be drafted.