THE latest remarks of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that there was no option but to implement the IMF programme are indicative of the deep economic malaise afflicting the country and should serve as an eye-opener for all concerned to help bridge over the financial crisis.
There is also logic in his proposition that the Government could not cope with the economic issues in just eight months and needed more time for the purpose.
No doubt, the Prime Minister has expressed resolve of his government to tackle the situation but the overall economic scenario is far from satisfactory as there is alarming shortage of the foreign exchange, which is forcing the authorities concerned to succumb to the pressure of the IMF and other donors, who are dictating their terms in an unprecedented manner.
One can judge the criticality of the situation by the fact that Finance Minister Ishaq Khan has all along maintained that he would make the IMF realize about the ground situation and get some concessions for people of Pakistan but he seems to have become helpless in the given situation.
In fact, the grave scenario demands single-minded attention from the government besides complete cooperation from other stakeholders which is not the case at the moment and the country ultimately might land into more troubles in weeks to come as foreign exchange reserves are enough just to meet five week import requirements of the country.
Foreign inflows are almost static but the government has been forced to ease restrictions on imports, ostensibly under the influence of the global trade organizations, which oppose import bans and advocate free trade.
Apart from relief for the common man, different sectors of the economy need subsidies, concessions and incentives to activate dormant economic activity but the resource-starved government finds it difficult to do so and there is also opposition from the IMF to such a strategy.
It is time all segments of the society contribute their share to stabilize the economy. The circular debt, which has touched an all-time high figure of Rs.2.5 trillion, continues to surge as the country spends $27 billion on import of energy but stakeholders are not ready to complement efforts aimed at energy conservation.
On its part, the government has a plan to solarize all buildings of federal ministries and divisions across the country by April 2023 and add 10,000 MW of solar power to national energy mix but this is not enough and provincial governments, industries, businesses and the common man will have to play their part to make the country self-reliant in energy security.