Dec 31, 2007 - Jan 06, 2008

To reckon and rectify economic policies having unequivocal sign of tilt towards betterment of the people of Pakistan is what briefly has been declared in the manifestos of two mainstream political parties, content in their claims of representing deprived-of-rights population of the nation. Economic empowerment of the people will become their core starter program after throning over the mandate to rule over the nation following a week-far general election 2008. Agricultural and industrial reforms to revitalize marginalized section of the society for productive utilization of economic windfalls are the major measures to be undertaken according to the economic modules of the manifestos of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

To attain its objectives MQM would abolish prevalent feudal system across the country once having elected its parliamentarians in upper and lower houses in majority. It plans to enforce effective land reforms by fixing a reasonable ceiling for holding a land. It would increase share of cultivators from 50 % to 60 %. Additionally, the cultivators would also be provided easy micro finance loans in order to encourage cooperative farming and cooperative marketing of farm produces. More importance would be given to direct marketing to eliminate the role of middle-men. It is an irony that in Pakistan farmers are still not considered as labor in spite of the fact that agrarian sector produces major revenue for the economy. Therefore peasants would be bestowed upon the status of labor. Incentives would be given for agro-based industries in rural areas. MQM plans to stress on to equalize wage-inflation ratio; to increase tax GDP ratio; to establish vocational training institutes; to encourage cottage industries; to develop and strengthen coordination between government functionaries and public; to reduce inconvenience to the investors; and to devise friendly and preferential environment for remittances to flow in.

PPP has in its declaration mentioned to focus on combating of unemployment; targeted poverty programs; labor policies; private sector as engine of growth; accelerating agricultural and rural growth, and ensuring water security and energy infrastructure.

As a financial and fiscal measure, MQM would reduce non-developmental expenditures of the government. Huge loans, which have been written off, would be clawed back and spent for the betterment of the people. National Finance Commission (NFC) would be entitled as an independent entity. Collection and utilization of General Sales Tax and Excise Tax would be handed over to the provinces. The party considers that lack of human resources development is causing poverty and unemployment. Henceforth, training and development programs would be encouraged in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy altogether. In public sector the wage would be subject to rise in a direct proportion to the inflation. The gap between wage and inflation would be narrowed down. Control of food inflation would be ensured by stabilizing and/or subsidizing the prices of wheat, rice, sugar and oil. It advocates the promotion of large scale manufacturing sector in parallel with any other industry. MQM believes that it is imperative to facilitate stake holders of private sector for the establishment of industrial estates. A public-private partnership mode would be deployed to encourage investment and realize potential opportunities. ?It plans to continue its efforts to encourage private investors in developing information technology sector as well. To stave off employees-government rift, trade unions would be consulted before the public assets are privatized. This would safe guard the interests of employees. And, consequent job losses would duly be compensated.

Yet, PPP intends to initiate a special program to attract the financial resources and special skills of Pakistani diaspora and overseas workers. Privatization would be continued in a transparent manner ensuring that labor remains beneficiary of the process. The party would pursue a policy of diversification of industrial exports and manufactured products. The emphasis would be on adding value to primary products and raw materials. It plans to stop raising domestic and foreign debts for wasteful projects and use the fiscal space provided by rescheduling of loans and the international assistance for fighting the war against terrorism for the national benefit.

MQM looks ahead to develop a system in which responsibilities should be delegated along with complete authority. Thereby, it believes, provision of public amenities would be timely and amassed. MQM has been pursuing unity of command to run administrative affairs for the larger benefits of people for years. A single administrative agency having control over municipal services and allocations of funds can effectively wipe out several nuisances such as water scarcity, sewerage problems, and unnecessary electricity outrages. This would also help in enforcing strictly master planning, town planning, building control, zoning regulations and land utilization besides in managing disasters, health and education sectors. The party plans to de-link traffic administration from police department in all metropolitan cities across the nation and to relegate traffic management control to respective city district government. ?Introduction of large environment friendly buses and low cost housing schemes in all districts are also included in its manifesto.

According to PPP's declaration, EOBI and other labour welfare programs would be strengthened and public-private partnerships flourished. The party would work to eliminate child labor, forced labor and bonded labor, and to educate and rehabilitate children laboring in workplaces. It said minimum wages would be enhanced to meet the escalating needs of labor. The party would work to improve the investment climate especially for small and micro-businesses and initiate programs to reduce cost of doing business. It would confine the role of the public sector only to health, education and infrastructure development sectors. Roads connecting farms and market would be constructed so that perishable agricultural products like fruits; vegetables and milk can reach markets to enable better incomes for farmers and for the benefit of urban consumers.