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August 15, 1999

Bitter Medicine

President Tarar has asked experts to suggest ways to bring down prices of medicines to an affordable level in the country. I am no expert but offer my advice anyway.

Number one, the government should put an end to transfer pricing indulged in by the multinational pharmaceutical companies. The practice allows these companies to purchase raw materials from their parent companies at an exorbitant price. This in turn provides pretext to charge exorbitant prices by systametically increasing the cost of production drastically.

This also allows the multinational pharmaceutical companies to bleed the economy by transfer huge amounts of foreign exchange for importing raw materials which could be secured for one-tenth the price from one of many other sources. The scam should be stopped.

Secondly, the government should ask the multinational companies to spent more money on research and development within the country to produce more life-saving products rather than flooding the market with such secondary products as cough syrups, vitamins, etc., etc. As as there are over 200 cough syrups available in the country.

Thirdly, the corrupting of medical professional by the pharmaceuticals should be stopped. It is uncommon for these companies, particularly, the multinationals, to bribe the doctors through various means. This include renovation of the clinics and homes, all-expense paid holidays in the hill stations for the a doctor and his/her family, expensive gifts. The real victim of this unholy alliance between the pharmaceuticals and the professionals in the healthcare sector is the patient.

It is necessary that the government should take legislative measure to end the corruption of the medical profession by the multinationals. As is, these companies enjoy an unmatched rapport with the government but have only returned the favour with threats of withdrawing their investement which actually tantamounts to blackmail.

It is also imperative that the government should refuse to get blackmailed by these multinationals who always try to give an impression as if they are doing a big favour to the people of this country while in fact they keep on reaping huge profits which could be envious even to their parent companies outside.

The time has come that these multinationals be put in their place for the greater interest of the people.


Javed Hassan



It say for all that time is money means time saving is money. But I say that time losing is also money. In case of Household Sector, people save their time by doing useful and effective work, by investing the time in worthwhile thing to get benefit, so it is called time saving and investing in good things ultimately means time saving is money.

On the other hand, in case of Business Sector such as banking, insurance and other f nancial institutions which pay the customers for the lost of time because in their industry time losing is money. They hold their accounts for a month or so and after the completion of certain period, they pay premium or interest. So, they are holding money and losing time to earn money. So, ultimately, in that sense time losing is also money.



Trade Policy

Recently announced Trade Policy fails to provide any indication of government's intention to achieve export lead growth in the country. The whole emphasis is on providing additional incentives for the traditional exports. Pakistan's exports are not more than a few commodities be it rice or cotton yarn. The country still produces lower end products for which market size is on a constant decline. Unless the country goes for real value-addition, quality production, diversified products and markets it will be difficult to retains country's share in the global market. Please wake-up before you miss the train.

Masoom Shah Sindhi