PAKISTAN NEEDS VISIONARY LEADERSHIP, BOLD DECISIONS TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL OF SELF RELIANCE

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Nov 5 - 11, 2012

With reliance on foreign aid and internal and external debts, not only our debts have increased to unsustainable level but economic growth has consistently decreased posing manifold challenges.

On one hand, poverty in the country is on the rise, while economic woes of countrymen are being complicated with every passing day. We cannot eliminate poverty through foreign aid without elevating our own wealth.

Pakistan has been under "development" for the last sixty four years. It needs visionary leadership, empowerment and inspiration with proper future planning to achieve the goal of self reliance.

Ironically, state affairs are being run by acquiring loans. Fiscal deficit is posing manifold challenges while priorities have not been set in right directions.

Our economic managers need to formulate concrete self reliance strategy, and adopt long and short term policies to encourage self reliance in the public and private sectors.

Foreign aid to impoverished nations is no more a solution to poverty than social welfare in our own country. It needs to become self-sufficient and sovereign from foreign influence. The exploitation goes hand in hand with aid, and only serves to keep corrupt governments in charge.

Pakistan contains many lessons from 'aid.' It has lost self-sufficiency in food production that it enjoyed before development assistance was invented. Government of Pakistan must stop taking all types of foreign loans, as people of Pakistan have never got benefit of all these loans but have been paying heavy taxes for those loans which are stocked in the pockets of bureaucrats, politicians and military generals. Pakistan not only can survive without foreign aid it can also thrive and become economically a vibrant country in a short span of time under a visionary leadership who with right thinking, political will and right economic policies bring the country out of all the economic mess and grow as a vibrant country.

Pakistan has to take steps which keep maximum money invested in business activities. The government needs to take is to devise policies which raise the level of poor classes to the middle and also bring down the level of upper classes at the middle level. This can only happen if entire Pakistani population becomes a middle class. There should be no per se upper or lower classes in the country. Everyone, rich and poor, should have constitutional guarantees of a decent job to provide enough of food on the table, comfortable residence, latest educational facilities for their offspring and permanent financial security. New economic mechanism would be needed to allow rich classes to maintain their life style by giving those incentives for active participation in Pakistan's infrastructure to enable it to grow to the point where our working classes start gaining the benefits of the system and start moving upward to become middle class. It is doable.

The emphasis on self-reliance has figured more prominently many times. But unfortunately things could not move ahead in right direction. A self-reliant growth strategy must aim at reducing the dependence on aid immediately and eliminating it over the not very distant future. The strategy to attain self-reliance involves setting investment, savings, import and export targets consistent with self-reliance over a specified period of time without jeopardising the growth prospects, on the one hand, and to devise a strategy which makes the transition from aid-dependent growth to self-reliant growth with minimum pains, on the other.

Self-reliance cannot be attained by pursuing an aid dependent growth strategy without an active intervention of the government to mobilise domestic resources and to promote exports. Pakistan's past experience shows that foreign aid leads to a fall in the savings rate. The fall in the saving rate may be attributed to the failure of government to mobilise resources which in turn lead to higher disposable incomes and consequently higher private consumption. The need for mobilisation of resources is, therefore, obvious and the best way to mobilise resources is to widen the tax net by withdrawing tax exemptions from various types of incomes and different types of goods and users which have been granted on one pretext or another.

Self-respect and self-reliance go hand in hand which each other. Self-reliance is a marked feature of a respected nation and a country. If we want to become a self reliant nation, every countrymen need to be prepared for that by the government. It would be necessary to sacrifice and play due role by every countrymen for achieving the goal of self reliance. Self Reliance is transition from a developing stage to a developed one. It also means to become self-supporting in every walk of life for every need of life.

There are many causes which are the hurdles for self-reliance. These are: an alarming growth rate of population, abysmally low literacy rate, wide-spread unemployment, deteriorating economic environment, largest dependency rate, poor physical infrastructure, persistent energy crisis, heavy import bills, inconsistent policies, acute shortage of public and private sector resources for research and development, lack of technical institutions and experts, undue import and export of domestic agriculture products, wastage of mineral and atomic resources, lack of industrial development, luxurious spending. Above all the non-serious attitude of our ruling authorities is also the prime obstacle to attain self-reliance. Smuggling, hoarding, black-marketing, price-hike, drug abuse and especially corruption in every department have disfigured the social fabric of our nation and country. If we want to be self-reliant, we must follow the footsteps of our sincere friend, China. She got its independence later than we but her graph of economic prosperity has been going higher and higher since its birth. This country is the perfect model regarding self-reliance. Their manufacturing skill is matchless and it has taken the country to the heights of glory among the comity of nations. For attaining self-reliance, we must educate and motivate our masses so that we may eradicate the ill-effects of the policy of dependency. The masses must be morally and psychologically brain-washed in this regard. For self-reliance, we need a sophisticated, streamlined, dedicated and accountable administrative apparatus.