by Khurshid Anwer
What I saw last evening on ARY channel has shaken me out of my shoes despite already knowing how bad things were. Dr Danish had with him economist Dr Shahid Hasan, along with an Advisor to PM on Finance and an industrialist from Karachi who is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance. I could jot down only a few of the many points that were raised.
Dr Shahid Hasan, literally in a state of panic, said that all the parameters were going down, fiscal deficit, balance of payments, current account deficit, tax to GDP ratio etc. but what is not going down are the ‘Shahana’ expenses being funded from unprecedented amount of loans in Rupees, Dollars and Euros. I couldn’t catch the figures which were in billions. The 16 billion dollar reserve also is all debt. Debt is being taken to meet non development expenses. He said, we are headed for a certain default and will have to go to the IMF again to bail us out, perhaps with much more stringent conditionalities.
He said because of complete lack of planning and wrong policies (populist), people are faced with ‘bhook’, ‘ghurbat’, and ‘berozgari’.
The Karachi businessman said job creation is impossible unless interest rates are lowered to give a boost to industry to encourage investment. He said if with the rising non development expenditure, cuts are made in PSDP, job creation will become zero.
Dr Danish then questioned the Advisor to the prime minister on the ‘White Elephants’ – Steel Mill, PIA, Railways etc where billions of rupees are going as subsidies. The Advisor agreed that these entities are incurring heavy losses. He said we need to change the managements, bring in experts from the private industry to run them. Dr Danish said, yes perhaps you can change the favourites but what about the thousands of jialas employed over and above requirement (not to forget the lakhs reinstated with back pays).
(this is one factor which is holding up privatization. When attempts were made to privatize PECO the buyers were not willing to take on the surplus labour ‘urf’ jialas. 6,600 had been employed in PIA in the first six months, what is the figure now? No wonder trains are being shut down).
All the participants were of the opinion that whereas the nation had donated handsomely for the earthquake victims, no such thing is happening now. Because they don’t that TRUST their money will not go to support the ‘Shahana’ spending of the president, prime minister, ministers and the advisors.
Dr Danish asked the prime minister at the top of his voice, “Why is money not coming into the prime minister’s relief fund”.
Of course, we know when the rot started, when Benazir stopped construction of Kalabagh dam and gifted us the IPPs. How can an economy flourish without cheap and ample power for industry and ample water at the right time for agriculture. Is there any other way? But she was not going to let Zia’s dam be built. no matter what happened to Pakistan and its people.
Her second act of kindness was when she blackmailed Nawaz Sharif into a nuclear arms race with India (sucking up to US, she told CNN, “I would have gone for a cold laboratory test”, contrary to her statements and photos in the press). Pakistan economy has never recovered from those two jolts.
Now not only the economists but any deaf, dumb and blind person can see that we are headed for doomsday. And I am being criticized for criticizing this PPP lot. Only many more of us together can build up a critical mass for change.
P.S. From KoolBlue: “The PP has broken down and failed, they have not been able to deliver on, Roti, Kapra aur Makaan, it time to look for a new Management of the Motherland”