The path to economic stability is long and complicated for Pakistan, and the tough decisions the government has taken since announcing its intention to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) only form part of the policy route the country must take going forward. The IMF has now asked the government to start making structural reforms that form part of the programme and a means to ensure Pakistan’s economy not only performs in the short run, but also moves towards stability in the long term.

These reforms span across sectors and will require more work than simply announcing new interest rates or power tariffs. The current feeling of despondency in rising prices of all goods and increased cost of living in the country can only be offset if the government moves towards a more sustainable means of running the finances of the country. Of course, these structural reforms will span across sectors and industries, and will need to be properly implemented if stability is truly the ultimate goal.

In the power sector, this would mean preventing theft, line losses and shutting down inefficient plants. This of course, is easier said than done; the former PML-N government for all of its work in the power sector, was unable to prevent power theft and line losses, and one cannot deny that it still managed to make important improvements to the national power grid. With regards to foreign investment, structural reforms would involve the ease of doing business and removing hurdles in setting up new entrepreneurial ventures. But most of all, protecting both the domestic and foreign business community from fraud and many other associated crimes would be essential if the government is really interested in long-term investment from other countries.

Each and every sector of the economy needs several important reforms, much like the examples of the power and investment sectors mentioned above. Previous government have also made many of the same decisions the current government has as well; monetary and fiscal policies are easy to adjust and involve limited legwork. However, where the predecessors of the ruling party have fallen short, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) must do better if this is truly to be our last IMF bailout. PTI has put pressure on itself by promising the people of Pakistan that the economy will not need any more bailouts from lending agencies to keep the country afloat. As the IMF has pointed out, the government has not done enough so far; the Prime Minister should remember that congratulating his economic team at this point is very premature. We have a long way to go still before we begin to see any progress.