Economic Policy Reforms In South Asia: An Overview And The Remaining Agenda
Pradumna B. Rana
Date of Issue2015
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
In the past few years, the pace of economic growth in South Asia has slowed considerably for two reasons: unfavourable global economic environment and the slowing pace of economic reforms that once were the key drivers of the region’s dynamic economic performance and resilience. This paper focuses on the latter and following Rana (2011) and Rana and Hamid (1995), it argues that South Asian countries have not sequenced their reforms properly. The first round of reforms in South Asia that began in the 1980s and the early 1990s focused on macroeconomic reforms — monetary, fiscal, and exchange rate management, as well as reducing rigid government controls — which led to private sector driven economic growth. These should have been followed by the more microeconomic reforms — sectoral and the so-called “second generation” reforms to strengthen governance and institutions — to sustain the higher growth levels. But they were not and reforms ran out of steam because of, among others, lack of law and order, and corruption in the public sector. This paper finds a significant “governance gap” in South Asia that refers to how South Asia lags behind East Asia in terms of various governance indicators and how within South Asia some countries are ahead of others. The paper argues that in order to revive economic growth, South Asian countries must implement microeconomic reforms: it identifies the remaining policy agenda for each South Asian country. However, implementation of microeconomic reforms poses a difficult challenge as they require a wider consensus and political support and have a longer term focus. The recent election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India with a strong mandate for economic reform provides an environment of “cautious optimism” for all of South Asia.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science
RSIS Working Papers, 289-15
Nanyang Technological University