Economic stability is essential for Imran Khan’s first 100-day agenda

Economic stability is essential for Imran Khan’s first 100-day agenda
Unveiling “Imran Khan’s First 100-Day Agenda” in Islamabad, the PTI chairman said civilized societies are not known for big houses in upscale Defense and Bahria Town but how the people live in slums. (LEON NEAL/AFP/FILE)
Updated 28 August 2018

Economic stability is essential for Imran Khan’s first 100-day agenda

Economic stability is essential for Imran Khan’s first 100-day agenda
  • Success of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government’s agenda depends on resolution of country’s economic crisis, say experts
  • Khan’s 100-day agenda also included strengthening the federation, revitalizing economic growth, revolutionizing social services, uplifting agriculture, conserving water and ensuring Pakistan’s national security

KARACHI: The “ambitious” 100-day agenda of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is “doable to some extent” but it depends strictly on how Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government will resolve the country's economic crisis, experts say.
Unveiling “Imran Khan’s First 100-Day Agenda” in Islamabad a little over two months before the general elections, the PTI chairman had said civilized societies are not known for big houses in upscale Defense and Bahria Town but how the people live in slums.
As well as announcing housing projects and creating new jobs, the agenda Khan unveiled on May 20, 2018, also included strengthening the federation, revitalizing economic growth, revolutionizing social services, uplifting agriculture, conserving water and ensuring Pakistan’s national security.
“Pakistan hasn’t enough dollars and the expenditure is more than the country’s revenue. For starting housing projects and creating new jobs one needs to spend money and we don’t have it,” said Dr. Kaiser Bengali, who has served as adviser to the Sindh and Balochistan governments as well as representing the latter in the National Finance Commission.
"Given the economic conditions of the country, it would not be fair if we judged the PTI government on the basis of 100 days’ performance. I will give six months before judging it,” he told Arab News.
Mosharraf Zaidi, an Islamabad-based columnist and development practitioner, said it will be very difficult to pursue a 100-day agenda without economic stability and fiscal space.
“So the biggest challenge is not how soon the government starts working on the 100-day agenda but rather how soon it will resolve the impending financial and fiscal crisis,” Zaidi told Arab News.
“If the government is able to resolve the macroeconomic crises it can resolve some of the agenda points,” he emphasized.
Dr. Jabbar Khan, an Islamabad-based expert on political economy, said as well as the agenda being ambitious, PM Khan’s team seems largely to consist of underdogs.
“However, given the public support the only biggest solid proposition backing the IK government, there are some doables, whereas more seems to be a long-term proposition for the new government in Pakistan,” he told Arab News.
Dr. Khan observed that the challenges are massive and with financial constraints, rising imports and a current account deficit, trending high will be a daunting task for the government of the cricketer-turned-political leader.
“The cost of energy and shortfall is a challenge for the new government, while making a commitment to develop the construction industry, build five million housing units, revival of industries are the added problems for the government, which concentrated in its election campaign on youths, jobs and anti-corruption,” he said.
Mazhar Abbas, a Karachi-based analyst, said the ambitions agenda can’t be totally achieved but if Imran fulfills 40 to 60 percent it will be seen.
“It seems that the IK government will focus on bringing the looted wealth back home. If we see any progress on this it will be a great achievement for Khan to show it to his electorate, and the expats sending him donations for his hospitals and educational institutions,” Abbas told Arab News.
KP experience
The analysts also keep the performance of his previous government in KP in mind before predicting its performance in the center.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based analyst, said that given the PTI’s performance in KP, the 100-day agenda seems to be unachievable. He said the PTI has failed to fulfill most of the promises. “If fulfilling promises were the criteria, the PTI should have lost the elections. The PTI had made big claims of accountability, education emergency and health reform, etc, but we saw none of these being fulfilled,” Yusufzai said.
According to Yusufzai, people have started counting the days. “Unlike a PTI government only in KP, the PTI in the center and provinces will attract severe criticism, both from the opponents and independent analysts,” he told Arab News.
Zaidi said the PTI have not achieved their manifesto promises in KP but there were a number of visible improvements to public services, which is partly why the electorate in KP returned the PTI to power in such an emphatic manner. The question of fulfilling the manifesto's pledges is not as important as the perception that efforts have been made.
“The PTI will create the impression to an extent, but I also think that federal government and national power is different from provincial power, particularly the question of fiscal space,” he said.
The provinces, Zaidi stressed, should not worry about the fiscal space because they have a set share of the federal divisible pool, but the question of managing the overall economy is a much more complicated one.
“If PM Khan fails to produce something it will damage his political narrative of 22 years and people will say that all he had been claiming was a gimmick. People will say now when you’re in absolute power, why have you now being unsuccessful?” Abbas concluded.