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 They say they had no say in economic policy-making

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PostSubject: They say they had no say in economic policy-making   Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:46 am

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
By Mansoor Ahmad

LAHORE:
People, who were associated with economic ministries during the past decade, have admitted they had no say in economic policy-making, justifying the criticism by economists who described them as those who go with the political wave.

At a recent function at Lahore, former industries minister Jehangir Tarin and former commerce minister Humayun Akhtar admitted that they were not included in the economic policy-making process. In fact, they disclosed, they were excluded from the economic briefings at the highest level and their requests to at least be present in such briefings were ignored by the then ruling elite. It indicates a lack of cooperation and interaction between the economic ministries of that time. Renowned economist Dr Nadeemul Haq, who was present at the function, said “there has been a belief in this country that we do not need theory or learning, we only need practice and practical ideas. So all economists, especially those who had any serious learning, were never allowed to be near policy.”

Dr Haq said “practical policy is keeping the status quo of injustice and a failed state intact. Practical policy is no reform of decayed, politicised and corrupt systems. Practical policy is preserving a culture of no domestic thinking, domestic debate or even any local reading. Practical policy is going around the world shamelessly with a begging bowl only to avoid domestic reform and thinking. Practical policy is following donor plans and praying for good weather.”

He said the history showed that nations, which had refused to accept such practical ideas, had progressed and cited examples of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Mauritius. “In my view, our poverty is in ideas we are too poor in terms of our thinking, our vision, our dreams,” he concluded.

Speaking on the occasion, former finance minister Dr Salman Shah, who remained associated with the Musharraf government, demanded immediate construction of Kalabagh dam. When asked why the demand was not made during his days in power, he said the PPP and ANP opposed it and “now that they are in government, they should favour it.”

Tariq Saigol, a leading basic textile and cement manufacturer, lamented past growth was skewed and promoted the services sector only. Saigol was the author of the famous, though failed, Textile Vision in the initial years of the Musharaf regime and another document called ‘The Way Forward’ prepared in the last year of that government. Both Saigol and Jehangir Tarin are among a panel of economic experts which is advising Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin. The finance adviser himself was associated with the military regime. We are expecting a change from the same set of people who were part of the previous regime.


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