Pakistans economy seems to be in a free fall and what is required is to arrive at a consensus economic agenda that should be followed regardless of who sits in the seat of government. The very notion of a specific economic philosophy being handed down by a specific government is not only obsolete, but also flawed because sound economic management requires continuity and consistency. Equitable growth and fair distribution of wealth, basic and sustainable support to citizens, and social and economic development of the society are pretty much givens, as the objectives of any modern day successful nation state. Thus, economic policies need to be shaped, evolved over time, persevered with, though continuously checked to ensure that at no stage they deviate from being people centric to favourable to certain individuals, interest groups, corrupt (yet) powerful mafias or political interests. In the wake of recent economic developments in the USA and Europe and the mess they find themselves to be in today, there is now a new debate gaining momentum that has, all of a sudden, raised new questions about the very role of democracy, capitalism and free market mechanisms. Just like with the fall of the iron curtain, communism became such a dreaded word that it allowed a unhealthy free run to the disciples of Friedman, there is now a danger that, in our zest to blame laissez-faire, we might drag ourselves back to an authoritarian and often counterproductive state-controlled culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The answer to the fundamental question of where the role of the state should end and the private sector's domain begin still largely remains, though, a matter of choice, while this debate in principle continues to take place within the prestigious compounds of leading global academic institutions and think tanks. Iconic economists like Stiglitz are already raising their voices about how the markets are not perfect and, therefore, cannot be trusted to self-regulate and hence need to be regulated. In their opinion, when left entirely to the private sector, greed overtakes the efficiencies of the private sector at some point in time and it is precisely this character weakness that needs to be controlled by the state. So, perhaps, the right answer lies somewhere in-between. In finding the right balance within the economy's main sectors that on the one hand, allows the state to ensure equitable distribution of wealth, while, on the other, allows the private-sector juices to flow freely, thereby creating efficiencies and synergies that always tend to be the underpinnings of any successful economy. This then brings us to the important questions, of how best should we manage our State-run enterprises and what is a prudent course to implement our privatisation programme - a discussion, which invariably tends to unleash sensitive, emotional and heated arguments? Considering that we, in effect, are referring to our 'family silver or a sort of reserve stock, these two aspects need to be looked at in a holistic manner, rather than weighing them in mere monetary terms. Also, we have to keep in mind the results and effects of such sell-offs on the common man of an underdeveloped economy, which historically, as we know, have not been very encouraging, to say the least. Further, their efficacy with regard to nation building, nationalism per se, anti-trust, price regulation, operational benchmarks, security, defence, sector regulation, etc also needs to be looked at very closely before arriving at any conclusion. Further, for providing good governance, the government does not want to be in a position where it is completely devoid of the very tools and instruments it may require to provide relief and service to its people. Revenue collection is yet another area that requires clever and prudent strategising. It will be foolhardy to assume that a messiah will come into power and the people will suddenly reform and start paying their taxes. Yes, transparency, inspiration through leadership leading by example (meaning paying taxes), reciprocity vis--vis the collected funds and an efficient collection institution are all factors that will make a tangible difference, but to reach the truly desired tax to GDP ratio, the government will need to embark on a programme where: (a). The taxpayer considers it advantageous to pay and be counted; and (b). Provinces contribute their fair share of revenue in the national kitty - taxes closer to home are always easier to collect since people can relate to them on a comparatively more personal level. Growth is another critical policy area, which requires a serious effort, because this presents the key to job creation and poverty alleviation - perhaps, the two main challenges confronting the country today. Studying the growth successes of recent decades, we find that an export-led growth is more often than not the sole ticket to a poor man's growth prospects. In fact, the very poverty (low wages) becomes the key advantage. Examples are numerous, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and others. Supplementary growth via infrastructure development, service sector, and knowledge-based endeavours comes later. For example, China's gains from exports (with money in hand) now compound with its ambitious infrastructure development programmes to keep its economy marching forward. No one here is advocating that we halt all other avenues of growth, but simply that the thrust should lie in supporting exports - any which way we can If we do decide to pursue this route, then properly managing our WTO affairs will be extremely necessary. Up until now we have simply made a hash of our WTO initiatives: A long saga of unnecessary haste in compliance, missing the bus on FTA and PTA, and pointless position taking in the management of our WTO dealings. One needs to talk to Chinese and Indian experts to know what can be gained through the WTO system and to the Russians on how a failed WTO initiative can seriously compromise a country's true economic potential. Finally, if one can agree on adopting a sort of middle course or a mixed approach or a pragmatic approach to tackling our economic challenges, then one needs to go deeply but separately into the many sub-sectors of the economy - meaning the nitty-gritty of each policy area in order to determine precise solutions for precise problem areas, and how the bailout management going forward will be shared between the State and the private sector - a lot of hard work I suppose? Some obvious choices that come to mind are: l Restructuring of FBR and rethinking our taxation policy. l A WTO roadmap that entails a strategy to finalise pending FTA and PTA, which are in Pakistan's interest. l Practical and pragmatic policy announcement to achieve a sustainable annual export growth rate of minimum 15 percent. l All unnecessary governmental expenses to be done away with accompanied by a serious austerity drive. l Complete autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan. l Plan to be unleashed to provide basic health and education to the people in five years time. l Devise a management framework to minimise the collective losses of the State-run enterprises in the first two years and to transform them into revenue earners from the third year onwards. l An energy policy that should start by taming the circular debt, but go on to shift long-term focus on cheaper energy, based on hydel, coal and alternate-cum-renewable sources. l Labour policy that genuinely addresses the worsening management-labour relations and the law and order issues. The big question though is: Who will do all this? The writer is an entrepreneur and economic analyst. Email: