Economic revival — a wish list

Mirza Shahnawaz Agha

FROM the perspective of entrepreneurship ‘consumption’ and ‘production’ are the key factors of organizing an economy and this wish list is all about what any entrepreneur would like to see happen in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. While ‘consumption’ leans on the population ‘production’ leans predominantly on four factors, land, labour, capital and enterprise. The basic factor of production is land and the laws that support its utilization. Organizing the population and the factors of production deliver the results that are pinned to success, free from borrowing and free from captivity of labour otherwise politically taken hostage.
When it comes to addressing the population their welfare needs and fiscal empowerment is at the root of a judicious settlement and this is a one-way road. No other doctrine fits the mold if and when propounded. Likewise the precipitating production warrants land in exchange of revenue to manage state, labour with fair and adequate compensation free from captivity and capital at a cost shared from within the profits of enterprise. These are the moorings and parameters of designing an economy and legislating laws that firmly contain and protect these contours from political and or military subversion. It is in view of the above reality that it becomes incumbent upon any government in office to legislate supportive laws and become Regulators of the highest standards in ‘social’ and ‘material’ technology for the country. These parameters incidentally, from the Pakistan perspective, are in sync with our national ideology.
The absolute and truthful inventorying of our assets, free from political motives, is fundamental. When national assets are identified, quantified and valued, will the worth of our capital-base get a nomenclature for comparable value and will get recognized for usage. We cannot and must not hide our head-count our territory and all that it contains because that consigns the value of our national assets to the hell of politics. In the case of Pakistan we are blessed with an asset base that makes the country extremely rich and comparable to any in the community of nations. Where we are going wrong is by not asserting ownership!
We are so politically infected that to cure ourselves we must immediately revert to fiscal and physical decentralization of the population and all the elements of production. Merit and accountability will surface automatically but more importantly, so will the writ of the laws of the land. This solution is based upon creating Pakistan as a market place for investors. Every facet of the economy must be productive and the government federal and local must be simply: ‘able regulators’ within, and ‘protectors of the asset and ideology’ without, for all of what represents the state of Pakistan. Towards the creation of a market one can call Pakistan, we need to consider the following basic rules of the game: Fiscal empowerment of the population to make available buying power, this would represent dole for above a certain age and for the disabled; Freedom for the population from captivity as labour in captive political constituencies, this would represent assertion of liberty; Uniform availability of health-care and education, which would represent even availability of opportunity; and The constitutional right to enterprise, free of the bureaucratic hold, preference and blackmail.
There is only one-way to achieve these objectives and that is to opt for 100% urbanization, where in contained units for governance the highest standards of material technology can be invoked and absentee landlordism for private political gain can be laid to rest. From the foreign policy objectives the urbanization model can be winning export and neighbours will be almost forced to replicate it. The creation of a commonwealth based on ‘equity’ in our ideology makes it incumbent on us to provide a preferential tariff free trade and investment opportunity to Islamic countries and entrepreneurs creating a market outside our borders for our produce. More. Towards addressing the external debt the contract to urbanize 3,403 population pockets in Pakistan at the front end of technology is a super leverage for the sale of the debt appeasing several important trade partners. As an example if the US is asked to build a few hundred cities in Pakistan one could negotiate their exit from Afghanistan and the part purchase of our debt in tandem on a protracted debt servicing schedule interest free! There are other players in Europe and Asia we all know with excess liquidity that would like a bite at a proposal like this with the drop of a hat.
Municipal companies wherever in the world provide an investment opportunity to the citizen within and from outside, help people assert ownership, regulation and accountability become free from political corruption and merit prevails over corruption. Franchising the biggest marketing tool gets liberated and industrial growth becomes articulated for sizing and managing markets. With the population out of the way the rest of the land under a planned regulatory regime gets utilised in full for greater production objectives, be they agricultural, mining or industrial areas, tourism included. Welfare objectives likewise get streamlined and be they schools, or hospitals, or dispensation of justice Federal planning and standards inclusive of budgeting come on track and in line. This is suggestive to new govt in office to whom we can only present a wish list seeking grounds for vertical industrialisation of country, which in all eventualities serves as backbone of any economy. A ministry for standardisation and a reforms commission meanwhile is recommended as a fair start. Happy sailing with winds of change!
— The writer is an entrepreneur and author based in Karachi.

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