PIDE held a conference, ‘Evaluations of Regulatory Authorities, Government Packages and Policies’, on December 28, 2021 in the Planning Commission of Pakistan. The discussant for the conference papers was Dr. Tariq Husain who is a Senior Evaluation Specialist and has worked in the field of development for 40 years, contributing to grassroots initiatives, governance, poverty reduction and development effectiveness. He has expertise in designing programmes, evaluating results, and facilitating improvements in performance and results. Through this conference, Dr. Nadeem Ul Haque (VC PIDE), launched PIDE Evaluation Research Cell that will produce rigorous research based on evaluative frameworks, of different governmental and international organizations and institutions. At conference, research papers based on evaluations of regulatory authorities, government packages and policies, were presented, such as Competition Commission of Pakistan, Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, Naya Pakistan Housing, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, Prime Minister’s Construction Package, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, and SME Sector of Pakistan. The paper on Competition Commission of Pakistan, emphasized upon ensuring the enforcement of the law in sectors of the economy to make the free-market competition that will help boost the economic growth and stability of the country. The paper also proposed that the commission team must also include specialists in economics, finance, commerce, law, accountancy, and public administration, rather than only bureaucrats. The focus should be on minimum Government interference, as the rules and regulations refrain people from investing in businesses. The paper on DRAP, proposed that more access to information and increase in the rate of testing drugs, aimed at enhancing quality and consumer protection, is needed. But vexing challenges like persistent shortages of medicines and drug quality still persist. OOP increased over time, and critical drugs suffering from shortage are often found in the black market at exorbitant prices.
The evaluation of Naya Pakistan Housing explained that in terms of housing finance, the situation in Pakistan is much worse, with Pakistan standing lower in terms of Mortgage to GDP Ratio compared to the regional and global situation. Although the State Bank has taken other necessary steps to encourage banks to expand their house financing to support the government’s housing and construction industry, banks remain reluctant. The housing program will not start in a big way until we have a mortgage industry. That will always be a dream if the government does not tighten refunds to protect banks from potential losses.
The evaluation of NEPRA pressed upon that the human resource department should be closely associated with other departments dealing with primary regulatory functions for understanding these functions and the expertise required to carry out those functions. The paper also suggested decentralization of decision-making powers for effective and speedy decisions in routine matters. NEPRA needs to improve its institutional capacity to supervise the electricity business; acclimatize itself with newer challenges being emerged as a result of a constantly evolving technological framework of the sector, including smart grid development, distributed generation, grid integration as well as the development of new innovative models of financing. An evaluation of Prime Minister’s Construction Package explained that most markets in Pakistan and archaic construction regulations have seldom been reviewed; and PIDE has long resounded that we need to re-imagine our markets. PIDE has also argued—and Planning Commission in 2011 conceded this argument in Framework of Economic Growth—that the path to high sustainable growth has to include a period of high-rise buildings in Pakistani cities. And these buildings have to be complex construction within cities, and not sprawl.
Speaking further of regulatory authorities, it was explained that PEMRA as an authority needs to be made independent from political and economic control of the government. The laws need to be more inclusive and the structure and design need to be changed. PEMRA should be given liberty in the drafting of rules peculiar to the media industry. PEMRA’s design should be altered to make it such that media industry can be put to check yet creativity, art and freedoms are protected.
A paper on SMEs recommended Mass Awareness Campaign among SMEs, Strengthening the Role of SME Bank, Strengthening Inter-Organizational Coordination, Introduction of Global Value Chains and International Production Networks for SMEs, Alignment of SME Policy with CPEC Long-Term Plan (2017-30) and One Window Facilitation for SMEs.
Representative of CCP, PEMRA, NEPRA and CDA attended the conference and shared their valuable feedback. The conference concluded on more future research and subsequent discussion through conducting conferences on evaluations.