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Multi-pronged strategy required to meet objectives

The newly installed government in Pakistan faces a number of mammoth tasks like foreign policy issues, weakening currency, booming population, maintaining momentum of GDP growth targets and continuous struggle with energy policy. In order to counter these challenges, the government is bound to take some unpopular steps like increasing tax collection, austerity measures, import substitution and privatization etc. The key areas identified for improvement during the first 100 days were governance, economy, federation, agriculture, water, society and security. So far 21 days have elapsed and only one target of championing green growth has been achieved while 12 are in progress. A summary of “in progress” and “yet to be achieved” targets is as follows:

In progress
  • Across the board accountability
  • Empowering people at grassroots
  • Strengthening and depoliticizing the police
  • Initiating civil services reform
  • Improving access to justice
  • Integration of FATA with KPK
  • Creation of South Punjab
  • Initiating poverty alleviation drive
  • Job creation for youth
  • Policy framework for 5 million houses
  • Reforming tax administration
  • Women development
Yet to be achieved
  • Reconciliation in Balochistan
  • Transformation of Karachi
  • Revival of SMEs
  • Boosting tourism industry
  • Making Pakistan business friendly
  • Transformation of key institutions
  • Revamping of agriculture and livestock sector
  • Improving access to finance for farmers
  • Upgradation and implementation of National Water Policy
  • Transforming health and education
  • Expanding social security net
  • Provision of clean drinking water for all
  • Enhancing internal security
  • Leveraging foreign policy to improve economy
  • Improving Pakistan’s regional and global relevance
  • Formation of national security organization

Out of the above, this article aims to provide some suggestions for the newly formed government in the areas of energy and health.

 

Energy

Besides the conventional energy resources, Pakistan has the capability to produce energy through different alternate energy resources. Pakistan produces two million tons molasses per year that is a reasonable amount to produce ethanol fuels for transport sector. Also, by the cultivation of Jatropha curcas plants, a large amount of biodiesel for automobiles could be produced. Further, by allocating biogas units in rural areas and at grid levels, adopting fuel cell technology and through biomass to energy production, energy crisis could be overcome by utilizing local resources.

The economy is badly affected by electricity crisis with loss of huge capital. The solution to the current crisis lies in energy conservation at all level in the country. The use of alternate energy such as wind and solar power could be utilized to immediately reduce the shortages, while electricity projects from coal and large dam could provide a long-term solution to the electricity shortage. New investment in the field of oil and gas exploration will have to be attracted by offering incentives to the local and foreign investors. These incentives should be well thought out and based on a win-win theory. We have sufficient gas reserves which, if properly exploited, can give our economy a real break.

Health

In order to achieve overall improvement in health, fairness in risk distribution and financing and responsiveness to the non-medical needs of the clientele by the health system in Pakistan. It is imperative to create strong inter-sector agencies, norms and standard setting for health care delivery, quality assurance in the pharmaceutical industry and more collaboration with the private health care sector. To provide direction and proper oversight a strong stewardship function is necessary. Public private partnership may strengthen the stewardship role of the government in terms of bringing good governance and promote more responsiveness in Pakistan health system.

The writer is a Karachi based freelance columnist and is a banker by profession. He could be reached on Twitter @ReluctantAhsan

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