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Profile  MUHAMMAD SABIR SHAIKH
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Politics & Policy  PERVEZ MUSHARRAF'S ECONOMIC AGENDA
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POLITICS & POLICY 

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF'S ECONOMIC AGENDA

The present government repaid the foreign debt of over $4 billion especially the expensive foreign loans

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
April 15 - 21, 2002

People will be exercising their voting right for or against the presidential referendum regarding future of President General Pervez Musharraf on April 30, 2002 in Pakistan.

Leaving aside the politically motivated elements having a mindset about things and their party interests above everything in fact it is the people from the grass root level who matter and can give their verdict genuinely keeping the interest of the country and the people in mind.

President Musharraf who took the charge as the Chief Executive of the country at a time when Pakistan was swamped by the foreign debt and its timely servicing had become a nightmare. It was a situation when expecting for good in all spheres of life had become a hope against the hope.

It was the time when people had started talking about economic failure of the country.

Due to unfriendly attitude of the international community in general there were fears that the country is going to be declared as the failed state. The sword of default was always hanging over; Pakistan was placed on the watch list by the United States and the anti-Pakistan forces were campaigning for putting this country on the list of terrorist state.

In the backdrop of the miserable conditions of the national economy, a handful of the people was enjoying their fatty purse at the cost of the poor of this country. These moneyed people having their clout in the power corridor were above the board as well as above the law. Nobody had the courage to ask these plunderers to repay the looted amount running in billions of rupees.

It was for the first time in this country that these powerful corrupt elements were brought to book and tried and put behind the bar. It was also for the first time that these so called strong and powerful people had to cough out the stolen money, they had swallowed either from the banks on pretext of loans, misappropriated in the public sector corporations or extorted the national wealth on different accounts by misusing their powers while in the government service.

The process of accountability initiated by the present government with a few exceptions has brushed aside the misconception prevailing in the country that high-powered government officials, political leaders or wealthy people in the private sector are above the law. Across the board accountability process disproved this misconcept and a large number of such so called towering personalities were treated with an iron hand and were cut to the size.

On the economic front, the country had really reached on the verge of collapse. It was really a hopeless situation when one looks at the pre-September 11 scenario. It was a situation when only a magic wand could have bail out the national economy from the then worst ever crisis. It was the bold and timely decisions taken by the present team which really helped revive the economy, as the saying goes "The lady luck smiles at the brave only". Today it is altogether a different situation when compared to the state of economy prior to the first week of September 11. Pakistan has respectable reserves of above $5 billion, which are expected to increase up to $6 billion at the end of the current financial year. The agriculture side, which is the spinal cord of Pakistan's economy, is yielding better results reflected in the major crops despite facing a drought like conditions in the country.

The wings of the huge foreign debt, which was matching to our GDP size and crippling down the national economy, have been clipped with better fiscal management and successful rescheduling. The present government since its installation to date has repaid the foreign debt of over $4 billion especially the expensive foreign loans.

In the year 1999, after meeting the budgetary allocations for debt servicing and defence, the economy was left only 17 per cent to meet out all social and development projects in the country. Now as a result of tight fiscal management, good economic reforms, the economy has now a space of over 47 per cent of the receivables to look after the social development programme including health, education and for the poverty alleviation in the country.

Although the impressive achievements of the present government are enough to convince the people to go in favour of President General Musharraf in the referendum, yet the fruits of these achievements and reforms are still to reach at the door of the poor.

A common man generally feels that so what if the reserves have gone up to over five billion dollar, so what if the PTCL has earned over Rs20 billion this year, so what if the WAPDA has also gone into profit running in billions of rupees, so what if we have a surplus balance of payment this year when the share of these profits is not reaching to the people.

Benazir government is blamed for raising the electricity price from 75 paisa per unit to Rs4.75 but why the people are being punished to pay the unbearable cost of the electricity. A common man feels that he is working for the utilities, paying higher telephone bills, exaggerated and inflated electricity bills, unbearable cost of transportation and declining power of purchase. Policy is required to be evolved in such a manner that the benefit of these handsome achievements is also reached to the common man.