Economic turbulence

Mansoor Ahmad
Sunday, Sep 04, 2022

LAHORE: The global scenario is akin to seeing boats struggling in a turbulent sea, where countries can be seen facing historic inflation, commodity crisis, food shortages, and unbearable transportation costs.

In Pakistan also, economy is like a floating boat surrounded from all sides by enemies in a rough sea. The country must defeat the storm as well as its enemies to survive.

The enemies in Pakistan case are from within, such as politicians trying to take the paddle in their hands even at a cost of drowning the boat into the sea.

Businesses are also not far behind as they continue accumulating wealth in boom and recession, but always looking for concessions from the state. The majority of them don’t bother to pay their due taxes in the country, but remain ready to go for strikes if a govt tries to bring them into the tax net.

Talking of bureaucrats, they most serve the party that is in power and also find courage to violate rules and law if it serves the purpose of the rulers. Most have no desire to operate as per the law because it might deprive them of a huge rent that most collect at the expense of huge loss to the exchequer. They are not bothered if smuggling flourishes because they get their share from the smugglers. While looking the other way, when the smuggled goods enter our borders, they risk the sovereignty of the country.

The smugglers could smuggle in arms and ammunition that land in the hands of criminals and terrorists. The terrorist attacks and the frequent shootouts in numerous areas speak volume of the dent that smugglers cause to the national integrity.

Pakistani police are a different breed that sides with the one that could grease its palms be it the victim or the criminal. The long delays in dispensation of justice are also not serving the cause of Pakistan and its prosperity.

We have the capability to withstand the global turmoil if we could put our house in order. The area that constitutes Pakistan was the food basket of united India before the independence. We inherited the largest and most efficient canal irrigation system in the world. We have destroyed it, and not maintained it with purpose. Our big landlords wanted to consume all available water depriving the poor farmers at the tail end of even a drop of irrigation water.

Pakistan did not develop high yielding seeds like India and China. Both the countries are self-sufficient in food, and we heavily rely on imports. Giving agriculture due support including resources could not only solve our food problems but also scarcity of cash crops like cotton.

The politicians need to be on the same page on the economy. This way the state may bring businesses and people into the tax net, forcing them to pay their actual taxes on time.

Selling of smuggled goods should also be discouraged by all means. The smugglers should not be provided a grace period to sell their stocks. The govt can give them a chance to deposit government levies forthwith, and if they don’t, confiscation and immediate auction on deemed duty paid price is the right choice.

Those that matter in Pakistan including politicians, judiciary, and establishment must realise that the country cannot continue with current practices even for any longer as the boat is drowning slowly with every passing day; further delay would sink it.