Pakistan is facing an economic crunch for the last 10 months or so. There are many questions why Pakistan is going down day by day in the economic domain? Since we have honest leadership and undoubtedly, there Is a zero tolerance for corruption. Above all, the civil and military relationship is commendable.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa addressed in a national seminar, Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way Forward in a public sector university. The COAS clearly mentioned that fiscal mismanagement was the reason for the prevailing economic imbroglio. He also linked the security with economy and believed that national security will be weakened with a feeble economy as per media coverage and reports. He suggested regional integration for the strong and prosperous region to avoid any future escalation of tensions in the region. Security becomes more vulnerable when one is economically strong or militarily invincible. For example, when an individual become more rich he has to take more security measures. Unfortunately, today Pakistan has nothing in the national exchequer. Therefore, less chances of being insecure. Security faces insecurity when one become more powerful than the other. We have been a nuclear power since 1998 and claimed it as a deterrent against India, our capability has become an irritant for the developed world. However, linking security with economy is misplaced here. Fiscal mismanagement may be the reason for economic downfall.
We have less income but more expenditures. The last ten years’ governments kept country on giving subsidies on Hajj, orange trains, and utility bills. Ironically the same governments kept buying the electricity on high rates but preferred to give fake relief to the people. We are facing the brunt today. The big chunks of loans were used on debt servicing, kickbacks and commissions and the minor residuals were used on the development projects, therefore, output was very low accordingly.
The COAS took the initiative and spoke out in the national seminar and pointed out the reason behind the economic crisis in Pakistan. it is a great gesture on the part of Pakistan military, impliedly gave support to the civil government and assured for their assistance to get out of economic crises. Therefore, the opposition must have been disappointed because of sustaining future of democracy after the categorical support of the COAS.
The PTI Government has to rethink about its performance. How long it will take to give any future plan to make development in real sense? How long we would have been listening to the blame game about the bad governance of the previous governments? The government has to give a future road map for the managing of crises. Although the national seminar pinpointed diversified problems in Pakistan economy, no way forward has been reported by the media. I am sure any road map would have been devised in the national seminar. This is the high time government has to get proactive for good governance and leadership needs to be little more active in performing its duties. There should be such national seminars and conferences in all public sector universities where academicians have to give their valuable suggestions to the government to get out of this crisis. The government has to get itself out from oppositions’ blame game. The judiciary also has to play their role in making quick decisions regarding money laundering and having illegal assets by the political demagogues. The government has to make their two institutions more active, bureaucracy and legislature.
Bureaucracy is not performing its duties and giving free hand to the businessmen for hoarding and overpricing consumer goods. It is creating panic among the people against the government. Inflation is spreading negativity among people.
The Way Forward
The government has to review its role in the prevailing crisis. What the government is doing to reduce the crisis? Is there any pragmatic plan to address people’s grievances regarding inflation in the country? The government has to reshuffle civil servants for efficient work. Since the sitting officers are not helping out the government but increasing its difficulties. As per journalistic revelation that more than 26000 bureaucrats have dual nationality, so their stakes are not attached with this country. The government has to legislate about the civil servants’ official status in Pakistan.
Financial Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, denoted the major reasons as “perpetual security threats, inconsistent economic policies, poor economic discipline and lack of will to take difficult decisions in the past as major contributors to the economic situation the government is facing today.” Now the question is, what plan the government has given for consistent economic policy, better economic discipline, and a will for which bold decisions that resolve the economic crises? The government has to be transparent in devising the methods for overcoming budget deficit, increasing the tax collection base, decreasing the circular debt, to improve the efficiency of the public sector enterprises, fiscal discipline, transforming the undocumented economy into documented economy, lay the foundation for strong institutional capacity, more exports and less imports along with making the national finance commission more efficient than before for a strong federation. In the prevailing crises government can do the following things for an immediate rescue from prevailing economic suffocation:
- Crisis management
The government needs to manage its prevailing crisis first. For this, they have to know what is the crisis? When there is a situation that is not fulfilling the basic amenities of life in time, it means there is a crisis in the country. The opposition’s outcry is not the crisis, the government has to detach itself from oppositions’ propaganda and let the courts decide their fate. The government needs not to waste its energy upon petty issues.
- Give a plan to resolve the crisis
The government has to give a clear-cut plan for sustaining the trust of the people as this is the only government on which people have trust, thus the government needs to sustain that trust for its credibility and authority.
- Price control mechanism
The government needs to introduce a price control policy. The financial advisor of Imran Khan must read and learn from one of the Khilji rulers Allauddin Khilji’s price control policy was highly effective to control inflation in the subcontinent. Allauddin Khilji made a team of the people who visit the bazaars as fake consumers and buy the consumer goods to check the price. If anyone is charging more than government’s announced charges for anything, heavy fines were levied on the spot. Not only this there was also another team that checks the honesty and efficiency of the first team in the bazaars. It stopped the corruption and introduced an effective system of the price mechanism. The present government has not introduced such a price mechanism that could control the businessmen from charging high prices from consumers. Today, we see the docile character of the bureaucracy as well as the consumer courts who are unable to give quick decisions.
- Rule of law and meritocracy
The PTI government took the mandate from the people with the slogan of rule of law and meritocracy. Unfortunately, still same law is prevailing that used to work in the previous set ups. Merit is still in question. Therefore, government needs to be active in prevailing meritocracy and rule of law to help the common man in Pakistan.
Above mentioned policies are a sine qua non, the present government needs to take on emergency grounds. It will enhance the respect of the government in the eyes of the people.