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Pakistan’s budget: Policy sans public

Raza Rumi Last week, a former Minister while referring to the budgeting process remarked how the budget documents were accessible to only 3% of the parliamentarians. A lady MNA whom I met after the budget speech was ploughing through the shabbily printed pink documents, looking for the allocations for regulatory bodies and both of us could not find the relevant figures. This should be enough to describe the inaccessibility and obfuscated nature of the budgeting process in Pakistan and several other developing countries. Executive board-room syndrome: Lack of public consultation in the budgetary processes is another hallmark of how the executive formulates the national priorities and finances them. Our state considers the people as ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘recipients’ of the wise decisions made in air-conditioned secretariats and donor board-rooms. This is why the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Economy, Pakistan, Politics, poverty

Pakistan's economy: Hard times

by Raza Rumi Two years after the civilian government took office, there are few signs of economic recovery and this does not augur well for the fate of democratic governance in Pakistan. We are somehow doomed to bear the brunt of authoritarian regimes in social and economic terms. By the time a civilian government puts its house in order, the long and short marchers are ready to take over. The story this time has been no exception. Following the trends of the 1960s and the 1980s during the Musharrafian decade, unsustainable growth rates were touted as the raison d’etre for the apparent efficiency of a military regime. It is true that the Musharraf era inducted Pakistan into the globalized economic system, boosted domestic demand for consumer products and attracted huge doses … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

A response to "The new East India Company"

This article is in response to the criticism of IMF in the earlier article titled “The new East India Company”. I am a critic of IMF’s policies but the earlier article ticked me off as it was based on populist aphorisms with no reference to economics or any stats. I was surprised that it was written by authors claiming to be professors at a prestigious business school, tax consultants and writers of several books.  History  In second half of 2008, Pakistan was facing a crisis. Shaukat Tarin came up with three plans notoriously known as Plan A, B and C. ‘Plan’ was a misnomer as in reality they represented a pecking order for our begging bowl. Plan A involved approaching Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB). Plan B consisted of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

The Timebomb Ticking in "Mini-India"

From the Wall Street Journal Paul Beckett Pakistan, he notes over green tea in his Lahore home, has a huge youthful population as India does: roughly 105 million out of 170 million Pakistanis are under 25 years old. It will be these people who drive Pakistan’s economy in the decades ahead. “Pakistan is a mini-India,” Mr. Shah declares. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Pakistan: Conditions attached to IMF “bailout” will exacerbate slump and poverty

By Vilani Peiris at WSWS The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in it first “bailout” of an Asian country during the current world financial crisis, approved a 23-month, US $7.6 billion loan to Pakistan last month in order to avert a current accounts crisis and Pakistan’s default on foreign loans. On November 27, the IMF released to Islamabad a first installment of $3.1 billion. Under its emergency financing mechanism, the IMF has approved more than $40 billion in loans in recent weeks to countries such as the Ukraine, Serbia, and Iceland. The conditions the IMF is attaching to its loan to Pakistan will severely impact the country’s workers and toilers. They include: eliminating all subsidies on energy, petroleum products, and fertilizer; slashing government spending, including “non-priority” development spending; and raising taxes. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

No point in blaming the IMF – Part II

More from Dr Meekal Aziz Ahmed (NEWS) A word about privatisation about which Mr Raza Rumi talks as through it was an unmitigated evil. Personally I have no strong views about privatisation but it is appropriate in some cases. Is there any reason why we steadfastly refuse to privatise PIA? None, except there won’t be jobs for the boys and all those freebees PIA staff, the defence ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority boys enjoy in those new slumber seats, bumping revenue passengers off the plane. Mr Rumi must have noticed that the first thing new governments do when they take power is to announce that PIA will not be privatised. He resents the thought that the IMF will monitor the programme closely. Why shouldn’t it? The IMF does that everywhere with … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

No oxygen in the IMF ventilator

More on the IMF debate by Mosharraf Zaidi Being of Pakistani origin qualifies an IMF employee to be as much of a Pakistani economy expert, as being of Pakistani origin qualifies a child that eats a lot of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to be an expert in Pakistani child nutrition. That is, not very much. IMF economists that spend the better part of multiple decades prescribing bitter pills for poor countries should stick to pretending to know Latin American debt markets. The utter brazenness of IMF pensioners advocating an IMF programme for Pakistan is so typical, it makes the challenge of affecting change in Pakistan for Pakistanis like Raza Rumi, Masooda Bano, and Harris Khalique (among dozens of others), much, much more difficult. How are these Pakistanis supposed to take on conflict … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Defending the IMF

I had posted my piece on the forthcoming (?) IMF programme and expressed fears as a citizen. The op-ed that was published in the NEWS has evoked a hard-hitting response by a former IMF staffer. I am happy that a debate has ensued – this is why his scathing attack on my argument is more than welcome. Any noise is better than the silence of complacency. Raza Rumi (ed.) by Dr Meekal Aziz Ahmed Raza Rumi wrote a nice article entitled “Debating the aid plan,” in your newspaper of Nov 1. I agree with a lot of what he says. Things in our land are pretty grim these days. But just as Mr Rumi’s article was engaging me, there came the usual blast against everyone’s favourite whipping boy and scapegoat, the IMF. Let … Read entire article »

Filed under: Economy, Multinational Corporations, Politics

Pakistan: IMF Programme needs to be debated

by Raza Rumi The not-so-inevitable is about to happen. After weeks of groping in the darkness of global financial mess, the Pakistani government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund. Admittedly, Pakistan’s options are limited, given its intractable dependence on oil imports for survival. The civilian government moving from one crisis to another has elevated indecision to a policy status. This does not imply that we start echoing the unwise cacophony of impatience with an elected and far more legitimate government than the eight-year-long authoritarian regime. But then who cares: if recent history is a guide, PPP governments come with a brand or at least get branded as incompetent comprising coteries of cronies, as if the rest of the country is a fair, rule-based haven. The plain truth is that the power-wielders … Read entire article »

Filed under: Economy, Pakistan, Politics, public policy