The Economic Advisory Group (EAG) was launched yesterday by an independent group of economists, policy analysts, financial experts, and academics to deliberate on Pakistan’s economic policies. It aims to inform public debate on critical economic and developmental issues related to Pakistan and provide recommendations to the federal government. The group seeks to develop a new framework for structural transformation of Pakistan’s economy, and to provide commentary on evolving public policies and regulations in the domain of economic governance.
The members wish to develop a platform where well-established economic ideas are converted into concrete policy proposals, to be advanced through public debate and government engagement.
In its maiden meeting, the EAG resolved to develop an overarching document for a new resource allocation framework underlying structural transformation of the economy, while addressing specific issues faced by the country in taxation, public debt, trade and business regulations.
The group members suggested to ensure ownership of the agenda, focus on the long-term, maintain an open debate culture, and follow up on its policy recommendations. It was recognized that entertaining diverse views is key to evolution of better-informed and well rounded policies.
It was highlighted that for broader public awareness on economic debates, economists need to use simple and people-friendly language. Without a clear understanding of economic concepts, political ownership for difficult economic choices will be hard to achieve.
Members of the group opined that while an efficient government is needed, its presence in commercial sectors of the economy, both by direct ownership of businesses and by sectoral specific discretionary policies, has given rise to stagnancy that has created obstacles to prosperity and the rising of average incomes. The members also expressed that economic issues, such as price hikes, cannot be exclusively resolved by administrative measures.
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The Group recommended to work on pressing economic challenges such as taxation reforms, the public debt crisis, the revival of economic growth and market friendly regulations.
The Economic Advisory Group is chaired by Syed Javed Hassan, a former investment banker and currently the chairman of NAVTTC. Other members are: Dr. Aadil Nakhoda (Assistant Professor, IBA Karachi), Dr. Ahmed Jamal Pirzada (Assistant Professor, University of Bristol UK), Ali Salman, (Managing Trustee, PRIME), Muhammad Ashraf Khan (former Federal Secretary), Mueen Batlay (Director, Hamdard Institute of Management Sciences), Najma Minhas (Managing Editor, Global Village Space), Sakib Sherani (CEO, Macro Economic Insights), Samir Ahmed, (CEO, Knightsbridge Capital Group), and Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, (Joint Executive Director, SDPI).
The group has been set up under the auspices of an independent thinktank, PRIME Institute, which will serve as the secretariat of EAG. PRIME Institute, which follows a vision for “open, free and prosperous Pakistan”, will organise a major conference in the summer of 2021, to crystalize these debates in the form of policy positions and public articulations.