Budget 2015 - 16

EXPLAINER: Why we should care about the Economic Survey

In less than two hours, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will be announcing and releasing to the public a very important document, the Economic Survey for 2014-15, the fiscal year that will end on June 30.

 

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As lay readers, people may wonder what is the point of even listening to his speech, and one could say that that is a very valid question. However, there are several reasons why even ordinary people should concern themselves with this important public document.

The first and most obvious is that it is a snapshot at any government’s handling of the economy because it gives in detail the growth — or decline — that has taken place in the current fiscal year in various sectors. A reading of the Economic Survey document for any year (all are available on the Ministry of Finance’s website) will provide facts related to everything from number of doctors per capita, to the number of mobile phone connections, Internet connections, length of metalled roads in the country to more familiar measures of economic success such as export growth, investment and so on.

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A view of the Lahore-Islamabad motorway

 

Another reason why we should be interested in this document is that it is a good source for facts and figures regarding the economy and its state. In Pakistan, where one often hears conspiracy theories on just about every facet of public life, it is a good thing to have an official document which at least gives in some detail numbers of various economic sectors.

 

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Comparing these for a particular year with, say, that of the previous year also provides a yardstick for judging the competency and efficiency (or otherwise) of the government in handling the economy and its efforts to improve basic economic indicators, the most important being income or GDP per person.

The details listed in the Economic Survey of Pakistan also give a much-needed glimpse to ordinary people into the policy-making priorities of the government and how scarce economic resources are distributed between various sectors of the economy.

 

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