The panel of economists, formed by the Planning Commission to come up with policy actions to address economic challenges facing Pakistan, has just released its first report. Regrettably, the contents fall well short of expectations, since the proposals lack any innovative cum proactive approach and merely borderline on stereotype papers of the past - Too afraid and timid to advocate any fresh or revolutionary solutions to a nose-diving economic condition; A case of old wine in a new bottle All the basic things that even a 'panwala knows by now, like enhancing public sector development spending, focusing more on agriculture, lowering present expectation on growth (which will perhaps resume sometime by 2015), promoting SME (small and medium-size enterprises) etc., are repeated and nothing new is to be found on how to specifically synchronize todays solutions with tomorrows goals. What Pakistan instead needs is some quick out-of-box thinking, a break away from the routine course and, most importantly, a replacement of the present management executive by the one that has the vision and professional competence to lift the economy and deliver bottom line results in the key national corporations. The problem with monetary measures is that they can be addictive with governments never really knowing when to withdraw them or perhaps over time turning too afraid to withdraw them. Also, the addiction mainly has two dimensions, 1) big bureaucratic egos never quite allowing market forces to function freely in order for the economies to generate their own momentum; and 2) the governments never-ending appetite for borrowed funds. The latter relating to governments traditional advantage to assume heavy debt burdens because their taxation and money printing powers give them an instant overdraft facility that is not open to the private sector. What they dont often realise is that markets and international financing institutions will react adversely if they feel that governments have taken on too big a burden. In Pakistan, the current cost of long-term government debt is becoming unsustainable and one was hoping that this report would provide an escape plan to the government on how to off-load a chunk of its debt burden on to the private sector. Moreover, it should have contained a clear medium-term strategy on how to persuade the private sector to once again become the engine of growth of the Pak economy. Whereas, the economic and financial turbulence of the last three years has been disastrous in many ways, it at the same time has also taught us quite a few things, which we may have known before but were in the mode of ignoring them as viable options. For example, on how inflation, which in spite all its ills can at the same time be also used as an effective tool to kick start economic activity. We have witnessed recently that, a) how projects that otherwise were not viable become financially viable owing to enhanced end product prices and b) ironically, even for the monetary side economics to work effectively, it needs inflation as a prerequisite. In fact, IMF and World Bank and other such leading institutions have programmes in place to use inflation as a tool to bail out troubled economies. One was hoping that the panel would also provide some innovative and tangible guidance and throw some light on how to capitalise on this particular phenomenon. Last but not least, we find no real answers from them to the looming fear that Pakistan will eventually have a disaster on its hands if it fails to tackle the deep-seated problems of debt, rising cost production cum doing business at home, inadequate industrial growth and rising unemployment. Our underlying problems include stubborn inflation in a population that has a high and growing percentage of people living below the poverty line, probably the highest mix of teenage employable population as a percentage, huge public debt (domestic and foreign), fast crumbling infrastructure/utilities and ugly demographics. Most worrying is a glaring lack of decisiveness among policymakers about how to deal with these challenges. Pakistans economy continues to operate far below capacity. The output gap that is the measure between actual GDP and the potential GDP (when the economy is at full throttle) has turned three times bigger than what it was in 2005-06. At present, none of the ideas aired by the panel to deal with Pakistans problems look anything like bold or concrete enough to sound convincing. Though the government may muddle through a few years, ultimately the situation will be unsustainable. At some point, unless radical steps are taken, Pakistans government will go bust. Sadly, the panel has failed to provide such a lead. Economists around the globe are suggesting many schemes to forestall such crisis. As an example, the presently very popular theory referred to as the fiscal-monetary one-two punch, given by the Oriental Economist, Katz. The theory entails a combination of well-targeted fiscal stimulus with non-fiscal stimuli like 'eco-points, sector specific subsidy schemes and non-tangible stimulus initiatives. Of course, the shaken and stirred cocktail is not meant for every customer and it is for us and the likes of this panel to develop a punch that makes us overcome our troubles