Though, it sounds like a sweeping statement, I just can’t resist from saying that the best pastime of PML-N leadership is spreading disinformation. In this exercise all, from top to bottom are involved. I would prefer to refrain from taking about issues like war on terror, military operations in northern areas and ministers accusing each other rather than focusing on the working of ministries they head.
Let me begin with Finance Ministry, its biggest failure is inability to create balance between revenue and expenditures. The ministry has been raising tax rate and imposing new taxes but making no effort in the extravaganzas. The worst decision is outages of gas and electricity supply despite collection of huge taxes on petroleum products and gas. The worst victims are fertilizer and textile industries. Though the minister claims that ‘common men are not being affected’ we have to find the new definition of common men, who are paying taxes through their noses.
Both Minister and State Minister for Water and Power live in utopia. They are not aware of the installed aggregate electricity generation capacity, actual generation and the shortfall. Both have been presenting concocted numbers. Despite payment of over one trillion rupees the circular debt still hover around Rs500 million. There has been significant increase in tariff but financial conditions of DISCOS have not improved. The reason is simple PML-N has been dishing out billions of rupees, without audit, but has not been able to contain theft and improve recovery.
Ministry of Commerce has yet to prove the reason for its existence. Exports from Pakistan have nose divided and the ministry has failed completely in finding new markets and widening range of export products. Pakistan earns nearly 60 percent from export of textiles and clothing but exporters can’t compete in the global market. The statement that textile and clothing industry has eroded its competitiveness is partially true but only the manufacturers could be held responsible for the prevailing situation. They have failed in undertaking BMR and also learnt to live without the crutches of government support.
The decision to allow export of half a million tons sugar and payment of Rs13 per kilo subsidy is anti domestic consumer. The benefit of this subsidy will go to the sugar mills owned by the politicians or the foreign buyers but nearly Rs6.5 billion of taxpayers’ money will be used for patronizing inefficient mills. As such there is little hope that growers will get their money which the mills owe for years.
Ministries of Petroleum and Natural Resources and Law owe various clarifications to the nation: 1) why the E&P companies are forces to pay huge dividend rather than accelerating drilling activities in the country? 2) Many of the gas fields discovered in the past just can’t be operated due to facing litigations, why the proceedings are not expedited? 3) At present LNG prices in the international market are significantly low, why a decision to suspend gas supply to certain group of industries was taken, rather than importing LNG? 4) Why the issue of LNG pricing has not been resolved as yet?
The two important regulatory authorities NEPRA and OGRA have proved ‘spineless and toothless’. They have become ‘rubber stamping authorities’ as they have been failing the interest of consumers but supporting the government in squeezing the consumers. Their only duty seems to be endorsing hike in tariffs of electricity, gas and POL products without finding asking the companies to contain theft and improve recovery.
While the list may go on, if the PML-N government focus on these ministries many of the woes can be resolved. It only demands commitment but it may not be wrong to say that the present government suffers from ‘worst confidence deficit’. It is taking decisions to please its vote bank but many are proving contradictory.