Of quixotic promises

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Two of our able ministers have predicted that jobs are about to literally rain down on the people. In a matter of weeks, at the most. The Railways minister Sheikh Rashid has promised some 150 thousand jobs soon while Faisal Wawda beats his colleague by a huge margin by saying – using his party’s jargon –the country is about to be swept away by a tsunami of jobs.

That nonetheless, the World Bank the other day painted a bleak picture by suggesting 3.4 growth rate this year which shall further slide down in the next fiscal year to 2.7 pc. Just yesterday the International Monetary Fund gave an even bleaker scenario. It has predicted the growth rate to hover around 2.7 per cent till 2024.

Like much else in Pakistan, it is extremely troubling to determine whether or not our economy is on the brink of disaster. Asad Umar may not be sure about the health of economy in the near future but he says by the end of this century Pakistan will certainly be the world fifth largest economy. He also, before leaving for a meeting with the IMF team, said the economy is though out of the woods, it shall take it a year and a half further to stabilize.

The Chinese money besides its investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has also failed to give a boost to our economy. Neither has the support from our friendly Middle Eastern countries. As always the government looks clueless, putting up a brave face, nevertheless.

With the next budget just months away, the government should feel the heat with development budget slashed and inflation already sky-rocketing.

Courtesy the previous government, the power crisis is less acute this year still we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we are out of trouble.

The recent massive devaluation also happened at the same time as the IMF mission arrived in the country, which is no coincidence. Although it will help us reduce our import bill, the speculations that it was done at the urging of the IMF indicates that the country still has not taken back independence in economic decision-making.

Foreign loans may keep us afloat for a few years but our ultimate aim should still be to not just wean ourselves off the outside money but outside meddling in our economic policy too. However, that stage will always seem far until Pakistan becomes proactive with regards to its economic policies.