Matter of Concern
This is with reference to the cover story appeared in SouthAsia in its April-2023 issue. If truth be told, Pakistan has been reduced into a colony of the IMF owing to the unbridled currency devaluation, particularly in the last one year. The IMF is still insisting on sustainable revenue measures including raising the GST from 17 to 18 percent, imposing GST on POL products and increasing the petroleum levy on energy. The Tax Laws Amendment Ordinance 2023 is expected to be promulgated to generate an additional tax of Rs. 170 billion in the remaining four and a half months of the current financial year. This is really a matter of concern for us.
Dr. Mehtab Zafar,
Importance of Foreign Remittances
The national economy is currently facing its worst crisis and several factors have contributed to bring it to this state, chief among which is the trade imbalance, i.e. foreign exchange is withdrawing more than the inflow and the resulting deficit is on the most severe terms. It has to be fulfilled by taking external loans. The size of the country’s safe reserves, which fell to less than four billion dollars a few weeks ago, has been slightly managed by the government’s hard efforts, but its status can be estimated from the Indian reserves, which currently stand at over $600 billion. Remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis are considered very lucrative in the conditions created by the trade imbalance. The good news is that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has crossed its target investment milestone of 6 billion dollars under which the number of its account holders has crossed 500 thousand. Currently, about 1.12 million Pakistanis are living abroad, of which more than 10 million are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman, while the rest are residing in Western countries. With the involvement of these people, a substantial increase in the number of account holders in Roshan Pakistan Digital Account is possible.
Deep Economic Crisis
The real reason for the destruction of our country’s economy is that our agriculture policy is made by businessmen and industrialists, and the policy of the poor is made by the rich, who have never seen poverty and are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Despite this, inflation is at its peak day and the unusual size of the cabinet is also touching its limit. If the prime minister cares so much about the people, he would first make the cabinet smaller and put an end to the extravagance of the ministers and parliamentarians. Today we are suffering from economic hardship. Austerity needs to be made a permanent national attitude.
Decrease in Exports
The Industrial sector plays an important role in the development of the country. After the agricultural sector, this sector provides the most employment in the country and earns a lot of foreign exchange through exports. However, the industrial sector of Pakistan is in constant decline and hundreds of industrial units, including large, small and medium enterprises, are shutting down, increasing unemployment and poverty in the country. Due to decrease in exports, the value of rupee is continuously falling due to decrease in foreign exchange reserves. Our competitiveness in the global market is adversely affected due to record increase in cost of production, which can be seen from decrease in production and export of textiles and other products. The government should take immediate steps to save the industrial sector from closure by forming a taskforce with the business community on an emergency basis to bring out the large-scale industries from the crisis.
The Way Forward
The people of Pakistan can also benefit from real democratic freedoms and political and journalistic freedoms will be promoted in the country, the economy will improve and the common people of the society will get equal opportunities to advance. There is a dire need of a leadership that has the idea of a corruption-free society. Unfortunately, the current rulers of Pakistan do not realize that Pakistan is currently drowning in debts of more than fifty thousand billion rupees. The requirement of the situation is that the national and provincial elections should be completed as soon as possible and the power should be handed over to the elected representatives so that the government with the new mandate can make a new agreement with the international community to save the country from this crisis.
Look Beyond China
During the last few years, Pakistan is becoming a market for Chinese goods, so China is benefiting in all respects. In complete contrast, the industrial and agricultural condition of Pakistan is becoming thinner, but both the government and the people do not realize the dangerous situation. There is a fear that Pakistan may also face the same situation as Sri Lanka. Expensive Chinese loans have also played a major role in making Sri Lanka bankrupt. It is necessary that instead of taking loans from China, Pakistan should adopt a policy of self-reliance. In this regard, the policies of countries like Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary can be adopted, but before that, it is necessary that Pakistan should reconsider its careless approach towards China. The policy should be re-examined and revised and the goal of common development and prosperity should be achieved by making it compatible with the national interest.
Syed Naveed Qandahari,
Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Reality of Austerity Measures
If we examine the democratic era carefully, we will see that in every period, regardless of which political party is in power, there are a number of tricks and manipulative tactics employed in different ways. When it comes to the democratically elected governments, their expenses and way of living has never changed. If something has changed, it is the people’s lives which have gone from bad to worse. The elected rulers talk about selling their clothes, but in reality they are so callous that they can even sell the skin and bones of the people if they are allowed to do so. Our politicians always find an excuse to run a knife on the neck of the people. If the people unite against all these political parties and boycott every expensive thing, their sanity will automatically come to their senses. These ministers and advisors teach people about austerity, but they consider themselves above all these things.
Dr. Mehboob Rabbani,
Poor Literacy Rate
Education is important not only for women but for the entire society. When women are educated, they are more likely to contribute positively to social work. This can have a positive impact on the economy and social development. Educated women are also more likely to have smaller families, better health outcomes, and be more engaged in their children’s education. Education can help women understand their rights and advocate for themselves and their families. Educated women are more likely to have better economic opportunities, be engaged in their communities, and are better equipped to fight for their rights. By investing in women’s education, we can create a more equal and just world for all. Let us celebrate the achievements of women and renew our commitment to ensuring that all women have the opportunity to learn, grow and flourish.
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