Pak-IMF deal and economic revival

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that dedicated efforts by all the state institutions to execute the Economic Revival Plan and sacrifice by the elite class were inevitable to ensure that the latest IMF programme signed by the government was the last one. According to the Premier, the risk of Pakistan’s default has been averted with the signing of stand-by agreement with the IMF. While citing success of Turkey and a neighbouring country to get rid of the IMF loans, the premier urged People to pray that this would be the last IMF loan and Pakistan will not have to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) again in future. According to the Premier, it was the time for the elite to face most of the hardships and contribute to the revival of the economy by paying taxes levelled by the government. The Premier told the newsmen that the government had recently unveiled an Economic Revival Plan to get rid of loans and stabilize the economy through a comprehensive programme of enhancing investment in agriculture, mining and information technology, and boosting exports.

Pakistan has finally secured a $3 billion stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that has averted an imminent default risk of the South Asian economy. Months long negotiations for the revival of $6.5 billion Extended Facility Funded (EFF) between Pakistan and the IMF could not made any breakthrough despite multiple rounds of talks, however parties reached a $3 billion Stand by agreement that would take effect after approval of the IMF Board of Governors in the coming weeks.

The country has been struck into acute economic frailty, that emerged out of persistent political anarchy, low foreign reserves, poor governance, and high cost of living coupled with certain global elements such as global energy crisis, and the war in Ukraine, etc. which practically drove the South Asian nation to the brink of economic default. In contrast, an all-time intensified political anarchy created worse situations for the masses. The severe economic issues and price hikes pushed the middle and lower middle classes below the poverty line, while low government spending in the social sectors sharply declined the life quality of the people. There had been a little hope for improvement in the economic outlook of the country, if those conditions exist in the country.

Realistically, the IMF’s endorsement of Pakistan’s economic policies and revival of EFF program was crucial for the restoration of global confidence in the country and the revival of economic and industrial activities in the nose-downed economy. The successive governments had always demand sacrifice from the public to endure massive price hikes, pay bulk of indirect taxes and suffer hard time to rescue the country economy. Currently, the coalition government has imposed 8% super tax on rich segment of the society and demanded sacrifice from the elite, Meanwhile the upper house of the parliament approved a lucrative pay package for the Chairman Senate which is a slap on the face government austerity policies as well as public suffering. Apparently, member National and Provincial Assemblies as well as Technocrats sitting the upper house belong to the well off and privileged section of the society. Pakistani parliamentarians form almost 90% of the landlords/ feudals in the country while this privileged class owns one half of the country’s industry. In addition to it, the parliamentarians owes sole power to plan, legislate and execute policies in their benefit and undoubtedly this class wholeheartedly protects its interests as it did recently in the case of Chairman Senate Salaries, Allowances and Privileges Bill-2023.

Currently, Pakistan faces an existential threat due to its weak economic outlook and persistent political unrest, but our political leadership failed to access the gravity of the risks and the sensitivity of the situation and still chasing discriminatory policies to get out of current economic upheaval. A new wave of price hike broke out in the aftermath the recent Pak-IMF deal that will seriously affects all segments of the society, businesses and industry, thus demanding sacrifice from those who already lingering under the burden of price hike, energy bills and taxes is just unfair and hypocritical. The ruling class must pause demanding a hecatomb from others but it is high time that they should pause their dirty fight for power, cease approving unlimited pay, allowances and privileges for themselves, and their families in reward for a few years of their luxurious service to the nation.

In fact, Pakistan economy would not be rescued through mere prayers and faithfulness, only concrete practical measures, across the board accountability, rational approach and continuity of economic policies is the only way forward to revive the nose-downed economy on sustainable and permanent basis. Otherwise cosmetic measures, selective approach and politically motivated policies had not worked through out history and unlikely to prove worth it in the future.