Miftah sees security in being on IMF programme

Our Correspondent
Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Karachi: Former finance minister Dr Miftah Ismail has said there is security in being on an IMF programme and Pakistan should there collaborate with the IMF.

Instead of depreciating the dollar’s value against the rupee, there is a need to increase exports. Also, we should work towards making the economy stronger so that foreign investments trickle in,” he said while speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Pakistan’s Financial Turmoil Affecting Industry and Business’, featuring eminent panellists.

The discussion was organised by the School of Business Studies (SBS), Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, on Thursday. IT was attended by faculty, students, media and members of the public.

Miftah mentioned the uncertainty of Pakistan’s economy and focused on growth learning. He expressed hope for a great future and narrated examples of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s economic crises and their efforts to diminish them.

The panellists included Dr S Akbar Zaidi, executive director, IBA; Dr Ishrat Husain, professor emeritus & chairman of the CEIF, IBA, and former advisor to the prime minister on institutional reforms and austerity; and Maheen Rahman, CEO, InfraZamin Pakistan. The session was moderated by Dr Lalarukh Ejaz, assistant professor and director, CED, IBA.

The session commenced with Dr Ejaz introducing the distinguished panellists and was carried forward by Dr Abdullah Zafar Sheikh, professor and dean of the School of Business Studies (SBS). Dr Sheikh said a few words on Pakistan’s current economic scenario and the gravity of the situation.

Dr Zaidi said: “Financial turmoil has created a sense of overall turmoil. There is uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow. Decisions concerning imports, exports, and investments are all in limbo.

Usually, countries supported through International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes do not default. I do not think Pakistan will default but yes as far as businessmen and policymakers are concerned, all are uncertain about the future.”

Dr Husain opined that Pakistan’s financial woes are not recent and they reflect the cumulative wrong decisions made in the past. He said, “To counter these problems, we needed to invest in basic industries catering to our consumers’ needs.

We need to support manufacturing industries and support private industries to stabilise the economy. We are also not utilising our agricultural sector although we are an agrarian country.”

Ms. Rahman said that the balance between our exports and imports is unbalanced. She said, “A World Bank study has shown that Pakistan’s capability of generating renewable energy is exceptional, but we need to have proper policies in place to capitalise on this potential.”

She added that we can be importers of food to generate revenue and that we should be food exporters, not importers. The private sector can also play an important role in stabilising the economy and should step up to the challenge.”

The panellists cumulatively shared their expertise and suggested solutions for the country’s better future. The discussion revolved around exports and imports, privatisation and nationalisation, education and research, system and government, technology, and growth. The forum concluded with the panellists agreeing upon the government’s needing to formulate and implement strategic policies to overcome the shortcomings in the system.