The 1997 food riots sent a clear
message the shortage of wheat, the primary staple food of Pakistanis, will not be
tolerated. It also posed a vital question; Can a country which fails to grow enough wheat
to feed its people truly call itself agricultural?
There are positive signs that $9.2 billion
export target set by the government for the current fiscal year are within reach due to
accelerated efforts by the new economic managers. Exports during first 6 months are
estimated at $4.1 billion. The textile sector which is the mainstay of our exports retains
its leading position by contributing over 65 per cent of the total exports during the
period in review.
There are concerted efforts to reduce the
interest rates. The aim is to boost investment in the country particularly by the private
sector. However, it may take some time to achieve the objective. It has to be complemented
with creation of conducive environment for investment.
A review of provincial portfolios indicate
varied performance of projects in the four provinces. While Punjab is performing better
than the rest of the provinces, and implementations improving in Sindh and NWFP,
performance of projects in Balochistan has deteriorated significantly during the last one
year. Yousuf Rafiq reports from Islamabad.