Pak’s economy beyond IMF
LEAVING the changes of finance minister, relations with neighbours, new alliances and reports of PM’s foreign visit, the bigger question is how should Pakistan act keeping in view its future of economy, jobs and foreign policy? Should it be pro West, East or both? Taking sides is a framed question.
For people of Pakistan, it is a question of functional democracy with government of the people, by the people and for the people. The country needs strong economy, more jobs and independent foreign policy.
There is need for individual rights and protections; at home, outside and work places.
Public has right to social mobility. Those on merit should progress upwards not who were born with silver spoon.
It is job of executive, legislature and judiciary to ensure that public has access to basic utilities, education and healthcare.
It will not come with foreign visits or alliances.
Public respects friends not masters. Pakistan is being forced to balance budget, remove subsidies and increase prices. It should stop.
In 2020, the US & EU have given stimulus packages of €1.7tn and $1.4tn respectively.
America has $28tn gross federal debt but Biden is negotiating $2.3tn US infrastructure plan. In 2021, America will print $6.75tn for prosperity.
As a democracy, Pakistan has every right to adopt independent economic policies for self-reliance. It should get out of IMF. Corruption is a major challenge for Pakistan.
West and international anti-corruption organizations have failed to help return stolen public funds hidden in world safe havens.
Reportedly, $4.5tn is stashed in the EU and $2tn washed through American financial system until 2017.
Obama passed Secret Bank Act to recover public funds.
Instead of using financial aid and loans to further foreign agenda, the stolen funds of Pakistan should be returned to help end corruption.
Is the transition real? America has been oscillating between cold war and post cold war era.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown that western economic model has failed to serve public, who paid taxes, in terms of saving lives, jobs and sustaining economy.
The litany of failures in the US, the UK and across Europe is its proof in terms of deaths, joblessness and homeless and evictions.
How can Asian model be different if it is integrated into global financial system including WTO and WB? The mega Iran trade deal is a test case.
It is infusing $400bn in an economy that has been blocked for decades by a highly controlled world trade system.
Without having an alternate global financial system, the chances of its success are remote.
The local nationalists have every democratic right to control their natural resources and demand just price as witnessed in the history of Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Islamabad has to understand that self-reliance is best policy.
The failure of Europe on US-Iran warrants new world economic model not new alliances.
The history of SEATO and CENTO also shows that architects of the alliances benefited at the cost of their allies.
The new alliances will also be at the cost of trade, jobs and defence. For Pakistan, the combined result of adopting free market economy and alliances between 1950 and 2020 is 70% decline in living standards, lost half the country and self-respect. It is all about economy.
Pakistan did not have to import wheat, cotton or medicine. Our education was recognized worldwide.
Several vaccines were made locally. Government funded public services. The state, government and the bureaucracy were answerable to public.
In mid 70s, the exchange rate was Rs10 and gold $300/tola. There was no sugar plantation in cotton belts.
The steel mill, PIA and railway were running. Electricity, gas, and water were affordable in public sector.
SBP, Public banks and National Saving Centres were building and sustaining the nation because they were under government control.
There were unions.
The workers had rights to negotiate wages, work hours and conditions. It was responsibility of the government to ensure permanent jobs, healthcare, education, regular salary and pensions as right of the public because it was paying for it.
The public is paying the taxes; the government should restore their rights. Public gets to control its money in a democracy, which no international law can stop.
Instead of making international alliances, there is a need for trade deals in energy, education, training and modern technology.
We cannot complete with our industrialized neighbours. The opening of markets will end our local industry and jobs.
It will Walmartize our economy. The domestic consumption based economic model is best for the growth.
We can bolster our economy independently with help of agri-sector, value addition and human resources. There is need for honest and careful utilisation of our resources.
The West gave stimulus packages from public funds and it is being repeated in the pandemic again.
If every major expense is going be funded by the taxpayers and then they are left with more debt and profits are taken away by private sector.
Clearly, the system is broken. Based on the pandemic corruption reports, Pakistan should stay out of the world economic system in its current form to build the country, save public funds and stay independent.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.