Shaikh’s warning

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ADVISOR to Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has warned that the incumbent could also fail like its predecessors if correct economic decisions were not taken. Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, he stated that the last Government did not maintain fiscal discipline for the sake of protecting its popularity and winning elections and therefore, for a sustainable development, taking right decisions remain the biggest challenge.
Dr Hafeez Shaikh has remained part of the system for a long time and survived because of his honest approach to the issues and challenges facing the country. In his maiden speech in the Lower House, the Advisor also touched upon what went wrong and what needed to be done to take the country forward. He emphasized the need for human resource development, meaningful increase in exports, investment attraction like China, Malaysia and Korea; enhancing tax collection and management of increasing debt burden. No one would disagree with him as these are the real issues and sustainable growth and development is not possible without concrete work on all these fronts. It is also a fact that the present Government, especially ever since Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh assumed mantle of the Finance Ministry, took a multitude of measures aimed at realizing these targets. However, there is common perception that not all of these measures have produced the desired results and the state of the economy and plight of the common man is not as good as it should have been in the backdrop of hard and bitter decisions and policies of the present Government. Exchange rate was allowed to become topsy-turvy in the hope of significant increase in exports which remain stagnant but its overall negative effect on the economy has played havoc with the household budgets and added to the miseries and woes of the people. This is what an elected Government can hardly afford and that is why the Prime Minister is tempted to take populist decisions as being a politician and leader of the people he cannot remain oblivious and indifferent to their plight. Reform the economy but in a gradual and phased manner and not in a revolutionary fashion as capacity of the masses to absorb shocks also has to be taken into consideration while making tough but necessary decisions.