Pakistan: Dilemma of Policy Planners

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With every passing day the conviction seems to be getting stronger that PML-N government headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif hardly has any sense of priority. Many of its announced plans lack coherence and at the best can be termed wishful thinking and worst of all complacency is based on perceptions rather than ground realities.

The country is suffering from severe balance of payment crisis, which demands following multi pronged strategy, negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF) being the top priority. It seems the government has hardly done any homework prior to commencing negotiations with the lender of last resort.

Those at the helm of affairs suffer from the illusion that the United States needs Pakistan rather than realizing the harsh reality that India is being promoted as regional super power and also being assigned an important role in Afghanistan after the pullout of US-led Nato forces.

The entire focus of Senator Ishaq Dar seems to be on mobilizing additional taxes and withdrawing subsidies.  PML-N government has been talking about resolution of circular debt issue by borrowing more but completely ignoring the urgent need to overcome the two most contentious issues: rampant pilferage and poor recovery. Injection of billion of rupees may reduce the debt for the time being but it will reappear soon.

Some of the analysts are of the view that Mian Sahib is surrounded by people having vested interest, seeking funds on concessional terms for establishing power generation facilities. These analysts also believe that another ‘power scam’ is in the making.

To substantiate their argument they say that the country has installed capacity of over 28,000MW but actual utilization hovers at less than half. Therefore, the top priority should be running of power powers at optimum capacity utilization rather than adding new capacities.

Some of the cynics say that Since Dar is an accountant by profession his entire focus is on profit and loss statement and balance sheet rather than achieving synergy, economy of scale and off course there is no focus on restoring confidence of investors.

At present Pakistan is suffering from ‘confidence deficit’ which is even worse than budget deficit and trade deficit put together. Local investors are shy because of looming energy crisis and deteriorating law and order situation.

Mobilizing additional tax without putting the economy on track is ‘hoping against hopes’. Since bulk of Pakistan’s revenue collection comes from indirect taxes, people must have ample purchasing power. Bleak outlook for the economy, eroding purchasing power and shrinking job opportunities forces people not to spend. On top of all failure of the government to contain price hike adds to the woes of masses.

There is an old saying ‘action talks louder than words’ but in case of PML-N there is hardly any action but big talk, mostly blame game. Both Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari are being held responsible for the poor state of economy.

People listened to this during the election campaign but now want action to remove some of the malice. PML-N had sought 100 days to put the economy on track but its real challenge will be getting the budget endorsed by the IMF to enter into an agreement with the Fund.

Ironically most of the members of National Assembly can’t comprehend impact of budget proposals and impact of these on masses. They consider clapping their sole duty during the speeches of Prime Minister and Finance Minister and saying ‘I second’ their sole responsibility. In return members are given huge development funds which are mostly spent on development of their home town rather than those areas which need the funds most.

Though, it was expected that collectively ANP, MQM, PPP and PTI will emerge as strong combined opposition, not much has been delivered as yet. Many analysts fear that the present opposition will also be the ‘friendly opposition’ only. Since some of the leading parties have formed government at province, these are effectively part of ruling junta and not the opposition.

 

 

Comments

  1. Dear SK,

    Please put more analytic discourse. For example, highlight what did they say? e.g.taxes? Please dissect claim rationality,& add your reasons for probability of applicability. What are chances of success and failure. Add why? Furthermore, please add some alternative solutions.You may add what others have done to get out of similar situations in past.

    There is a premise that coal based projects are not being approved by the governmental sector because of high carbon emission. Reason for killing such projects is lack of appreciation from international funding agencies. Is it true?
    Best, izhar

    1. It is rather a complicated situation, may be I beed to write another 1000 blogs to first let the people know what are the most pressing issues and then another 1000 blogs to change the mindset of policy makers. However, my gut feeling is that people just keep their eyes and ears closed, hardly complain and government just doesn’t bothers to take any action.

  2. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new surveys are added- checkbox and after this every time a comment is added I recieve four emails using the same comment. Could there be in whatever way you may eliminate me from that service? Thanks!

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