Need for an RTC
09-02-2011

Need for an RTC
By Pakistan Today | Published: February 10, 2011
PrintFacebookDiggStumbleUponText Size President Zardari’s idea of a round table conference to discuss unspecified ‘important national issues’ has evoked divergent reactions as was expected in a milieu marked by lack of credibility. Ch Nisar has pooh-poohed the initiative calling it a new joke while PML(Q)’s Faisal Saleh Hayat has dubbed it as a ploy aimed at diverting media’s attention from the issue of corruption. Conversely, the MQM and PML(Likeminded) have welcomed the move. Presumably, the government being under immense pressure from the US on the issue of Raymond Davis and from the IMF on economic reforms considers it necessary to build a consensus on these issues. Internal pressures are also mounting with the PML(N) making it known that unless progress is made on its agenda, it would part company with the PPP in Punjab. Prime Minister Gilani presumably wants the PML(N) to also take other parties on board on its agenda.
What is causing dismay is that the government’s movement on reforms is both tardy and unsatisfactory. This is illustrated by the reconstructed Boards of Directors of the DISCOs and the NTDC, announced after meditations spread over two months. The Boards are oversized, thus violating the guidelines of the Cabinet Committee on Reforms. What is more the government has inducted several cronies as members who lack the type of expertise currently needed to steer the DISCOs out of the doldrums and to embark on privatisation and restructuring with speed.
A consensus among the government and opposition is needed to deal with the international pressures and the economy. Topmost on the list of issues is an agreement on measures needed to enhance the revenue, implement power sector reforms and move apace to restructure and privatise the state owned enterprises. A consensus on these issues is required to ensure the continuation of vital policies under different administrations needed to infuse confidence in the business community and the IFIs. The dissolution of the cabinet has to be followed by an efficient team. Improvement in governance is badly required. There is also a need for actions – not just words – that show government’s sincerity in bringing the country out of the quagmire with a cooperative opposition.