Engineered Economy of Pakistan
Islamabad: Lack of governance or bad governance, no matter how we look at it sounds synonymous but in reality what one can witness from the ongoing parliamentary sessions is that government believes in neither of these clichés and its ministers with the help of some imported and even local bureaucrats are relying heavily on devising an existing model of engineered governance to befool not only fellow parliamentarians but also the entire nation.
A call attention notice was moved in the house to raise concerns over the unrelenting publishing of new currency notes by State Bank of Pakistan to meet the growing expenditures of the state and the government by Nawaz League MPs. Following usual rather ceremonial speeches of anti and pro government, the matter was hushed up with all too familiar technical data—which left all and sundry clueless as one can see from the movers of the notice and all others pretending to be nowhere but in no-man-land.
However, if we look at the craftsmanship of the ministry of finance and go through one of their written statements presented before the national assembly during the last session on January 06, 2012 and compare it with the same ministry’s statement of concern issued in the first week of February 2012, its just impossible not to appreciate their engineered model of governance.
On January 07, 2012 the ministry of finance was telling the parliamentarians that debt to GDP ratio will be kept in control and would not exceed the threshold of 60 per cent by end of 2012, thus calming down the nerves of the house. The same ministry, however, few days later had to issue the statement that the same ratio is likely to surpass 65 per cent which will be a clear violation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (FRDL) Act 2005.
Now should we trust the first statement of our imported finance minister Mr Hafeez Shaikh and his handpicked economists or should we look and go haywire after looking at the warning they had to issue within weeks of the first one? The matter remained unresolved because the finance ministry babus don’t have time to look at these discrepancies because they seem to have a strong belief that whatever they throw at the parliamentarians will either remain unread rather untouched and even if someone comes up with a query they can easily cover it up under the heavy financial jargons, they have borrowed from their previous employers like IMF, World Bank, Citi Bank or even Silk.
Without going into the debate of what Silky Tareen also known as Shaukat Tareen and his mentor Shaukat Aziz has been playing around in the name of booming or busting our economy, one can see a trail of Mr. Shaikh who wants to be seen as Mr. Clean like all his predecessors not because he has served at IMF or World Bank but because he has been serving as a hedge fund manager for a known Indian brand in Dubai before getting the call from the decision-makers to fill in the most coveted post of finance minister in Pakistan as Tareen had surrendered to take care of his Silk Bank.
It may seem just an afterthought of the finance minister and his team but the real game going on in the ministry is yet to be unearthed by any of the big mouths hovering on our TV screens on almost daily basis. The name of the game is the interest rates and the borrowing scandal. I may not be able to cover both here but will finish the leftovers soon.
As one of the insiders attending the parliamentary session confided that with the huge internal borrowing going on (currently standing at Rs 6239 billion as of October 2011) has anyone wondered why government is doing this on short term basis? The borrowing is going on ever since the birth of this country and every finance minister—no matter from where he is imported—knows this as a matter of fact that there is no escape from internal and external borrowing. Yet why no long term plan is devised and short term borrowing is done?
The answer, informed insider said, is simple because in short term the babus of the finance ministry gets a good cut for themselves and for the big bosses and that too in their off shore accounts. Being an insider who has served in the ministry for many years and has seen (may be helped) many of our imported dignitaries to fill up their off-shore accounts claimed that if any of the current team members (if not possible for the minister) is interrogated, the entire nation would know that what’s the reality and how fudged figures and engineered economy is being run by few ‘knowledgeable’ persons. He said that pointing fingers at someone like Mansha or Ali Raza might be fruitless because every businessman wants to make money by shedding off the open market and lending their monies to the assured accounts of a state.
The matter is damn serious and needs lot more space so wait for next one.