In his maiden media interaction after taking over as Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin reiterated an apparent shift in the policy by declaring that neither power tariff nor revenue target would be increased as the country fights a third wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
He said there has to be a balance in autonomy and accountability of the State Bank of Pakistan while staying within the IMF programme through alternative means.
The continuation of IMF programme was important in prevailing economic and geo-political scenario and that is why the Minister has expressed his desire to stay within the programme.
He also agrees with major thrust of the programme i.e. increase in revenue but instead of realising the objective through increase in tariff and taxes as well as removal of subsidies he wants to do it by accelerating the pace of GDP growth.
The Minister rightly pointed out that conditions imposed by the IMF were not only strict but also had a political cost.
This is evident from what transpired ever since implementation started on IMF accord as massive devaluation of rupee, frequent upward revision of electricity and gas tariff, phenomenal increase in policy rate and reduction in development spending not only squeezed the growth but made lives of the people miserable.
None of the stated objectives of these so-called structural reforms have so far been realised except an unbearable price-hike that has become number one concern of the PTI government.
Reaction of the masses is evident from protest demonstrations by different sections of the society and outcome of by-elections of National and Provincial assemblies.
In this backdrop, change in policy augurs well and we hope the focus on streamlining revenue and power sectors through homegrown reforms and focus on farmers and youth would likely produce desired results.
Increased spending on agriculture is also need of the hour in view of persistent shortages of food items in an otherwise agrarian country.