PM’s Samaa interview

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Rizwan Ghani

PDM is an alliance to save rich individuals not public under the garb of CoD. PTI is a 3rd force which breaks the two-party system to block politics of interest and promote public welfare. It is like UK Liberal Democrat Party which was established in 1988 to help end Thatcherism (1979-1990) in which managed economy was replaced with free market, welfare state scrapped, national industry was privatized and government control Bank of England or British economy was handed over to the Wall Street. Regan became natural ally of Thatcher with his Reaganism. The 4-pillars of Reagan’s economic policy were to reduce the growth of government spending (privatization), reduce taxes and government regulation (supply side economy) and tighten the money supply to control inflation. Regan’s free-market economy is associated with trickle-down theory in which taxes on businesses and the wealthy are reduced as a means to stimulate business investment in the short term and benefit society at large in the long term.It puts in perspective PM’s interview and political standoff. PM’s narrative is spot on. There should be ruthless accountability. He has exposed leaderships of major political parties for using politics to make money, having foreign backing and undermining other state institutions. In 1981, Thatcher supported Rupert Murdoch to own 40% of the British Press to stay popular in the Press despite her failed policies. Murdoch’s support came at the cost of newspapers workers unions. He became media dictator who was responsible for collapse of integrity in British journalism and political life.
Public is a bystander in this chaos. PTI has no choice but to deliver to end political status quo of taking turns to make money. The Opposition will try its best to derail it but it can turn the tables by adoption public friendly policies. In rural Pakistan, public wants end of Thana and Patwari culture. Express justice system with 1,20,000 new courts is need of the hour to end millions of pending cases. Effective policing is needed to end use of crime, rape and intimidation for political, tribal and feudal controls. Government needs to adopt policies that can transform lives in rural areas in the shortest possible time. It can be achieved with help of giving state land to poor on lines of US homestead law and relocation of population by China. By relocating people all over Pakistan including 3-4 crore in Baluchistan (49% of total landmass), a new domestic consumption based economy can be started. It can improve our agri-sector, GDP and economy. The public in remote areas be connected with internet to allow them to integrate in main economy. Establishment of value addition industry in rural areas supported by IT (wifi, apps/website) and renewable energy is the permanent foundation of our agri-based domestic consumption based economic boom. The data shows that due to lack of it, the farmers are suffering daily losses which value addition can transform into daily earnings. They can instantly deliver results because a packaging plant will start saving milk daily, meeting local demand and cutting imports. Similarly, it holds true for meat, poultry and agri-based produce and products. It can produce lightening fast results as compared to economic zones.
It is hard to agree with government’s export based economic strategy. With 2nd wave of Covid-19 coming to West, it is hard to get expected results. Keeping in view the flat export rate of $24bn in last ten year with all the incentive, things may not change much. In money terms, by starting local production of steel ($3bn import in 2019), ending sugar plantation in cotton belt ($1.7bn import in 2019), fixing wheat and fertilizer prices for next three years, and blocking its smuggling to neighbouring countries, lowering interest rate to one per cent (BoE .01%, Rs900bn saved), government can add $10bn to the economy in one year. It can bring additional revenue to the State. In urban areas, government needs to provide jobs, transport, utilities, healthcare, safety and education. Since educated class is the main voter of PTI so it needs to be more careful in ensuring that all these services are available. Standardization of education can make it affordable. It can be on lines of UK, USA and PISA in which students are tested at three stages (4,8, 12th grades) in mathematics, science, reading and writing. Other 58 subjects are tested randomly. A transparent testing system and one syllabus will allow independent preparation of material and help bring our school education at international level. Regarding energy and healthcare sectors, the UK economy, privatization and other reports have shown that 50 per cent of domestic sector should be shifted to renewable with help of bank loans. The industries have to produce their own electricity as per its license. This rule should be implemented. It will further cut government circular debt. By fixing per unit electricity price for next 3 years, energy shortage can be overcome immediately. Loans should be given to poor people so that they can improve their current living accommodations. Government can win next elections if it can provide utilities, sanitary, primary healthcare, education and safety in all such areas in next six months.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.