POST-BIRTH PAINS

SHAMSUL GHANI (shams_ghani@hotmail.com)
Mar 23 - 29, 2009

Pakistan Day should normally remind us of the pains of the gigantic struggle that went into the creation of an ideal homeland. This task may well be left for the attention of other sections of print media. We will do well to take a view of the post birth era from economic, social, and political standpoints. Unfortunately, the country instead of developing into a welfare state has turned out to be a haven rather heaven for the pre-partition exploitative forces. Unlike India, we failed at the outset to dispense with the feudal system. With the passage of time, the feudal system became the nucleus of power and sucked into their orbit, the bureaucrats, the top businesspersons, the politicians and to some extent, the army Generals. The media and the members of the elite society are the latest addition to the cartel of exploitative forces. The masses were left alone to face the consequences of the inapt ways of governance of the members of the cartel who have an unwritten agreement to rule the country one by one.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL INDICATORS
AVERAGE (ANNUAL)
  1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 99-00 00-01 01-02 02-03 03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07 07-08
GROWTH RATES %
(CONSTANT FACTOR COST)
GDP 6.8 4.8 6.5 4.6 3.9 2 3.1 4.7 7.5 9 5.8 6.8 5.8
Agriculture 5.1 2.4 5.4 4.4 6.1 -2.2 0.1 4.1 2.4 6.5 6.3 3.7 1.5
Manufacturing 9.9 5.5 8.2 4.8 1.5 9.3 4.5 6.9 14 15.5 8.7 8.2 5.4
Commodity Sector 6.8 3.9 6.5 4.6 3 0.8 1.4 4.3 9.2 9.5 5.1 6 3.2
Service Sector 6 6.3 6.7 4.6 4.8 3.1 4.8 5.2 5.9 8.5 6.5 7.6 8.2
GROWTH RATES %
(CURRENT MP)
Total Investment NA 21.8 4.2 8.1 10.2 8.6 3.2 10.7 14.4 32.6 36.1 18.3 13.1
N-Savings (as % of Inv) NA 67.5 22.6 57.6 91 95.8 110.7 123.1 108 91.5 82.3 77.7 64.5
AS % OF GDP
(CURRENT MP)
Total Investment NA 17.1 18.7 18.3 17.4 17.2 16.8 16.9 16.6 19.1 22.1 22.9 21.6
National Savings NA 11.2 14.8 13.8 15.8 16.5 18.6 20.8 17.9 17.5 18.2 17.8 13.9
CPI (Growth%) Jul-Mar 3.2 12.5 7.2 9.7 3.6 4.4 3.5 3.1 4.6 9.3 7.9 7.8 10.3
FISCAL DATA
As % of GDP (MP)
Tax Revenue NA NA 13.8 13.4 10.7 10.6 10.9 11.5 11.0 10.1 10.6 10.2 10.1
Non-tax Revenue NA NA 3.5 3.7 2.8 2.7 3.3 3.4 3.3 3.7 3.6 4.7 4.6
Total Revenue NA NA 17.3 17.1 13.5 13.3 14.2 14.9 14.3 13.8 14.2 14.9 14.7
Current Expenditure NA NA 17.6 19.4 16.5 15.5 15.9 16.3 13.5 13.3 13.6 14.9 17.5
Development Exp. NA NA 7.3 4.7 2.5 2.1 2.8 2.2 3.1 3.9 4.8 4.9 3.8
Total Expenditure NA NA 24.9 24.1 19 17.6 18.7 18.5 16.6 17.2 18.4 19.8 21.3
Overall Deficit 2.1 5.3 7.1 6.9 5.4 4.3 4.3 3.7 2.4 3.3 4.3 4.3 5.5
SOCIAL SECTOR
EXPENDITURE (% OF GNP)
Education NA NA 0.8 2.3 2.1 1.6 1.9 1.7 2.1 1 1.9 2.4 2.3
Health NA 0.6 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.6

These members have their own groups within the cartel that keep on clashing with each other to safeguard their group interests. The infighting of groups essentially entails huge loss to the economy as investment and business activities are put on hold. During 2008, these groups joined hands to work up a rebellion against the then ruling group. The result was a huge economic cost that was, as usual, passed on to the country and the masses. The economy had performed well during the nine-year tenure of the deposed government. However, the uncalled for clash of the stakes pushed the country twenty years back. The recent showdown between the two major democratic groups who played allies for a period pushed the country to the brink of disaster. Those leading the fight never thought of the precarious situation the country was already in. Thanks to the saner elements, the issue was resolved amicably, at least for the time being. However, the episode has given rise to some serious questions that are boggling the minds of the silent majority who is sincere with the country (although it has no say in country's affairs). These questions are:

1. Is street agitation the right way to get demands accepted?

2. Have they major democratic groups of this country learned any lessons from their past acts of inaptitude?

3. Why the larger province so swiftly succeeded in having its way, while smaller provinces were invariably subjected to army /ranger /police actions whenever they came up with their demands?

4. What is the tolerance limit of our opposition groups for the ruling democratic setups?

On the economic front, the country has had a checkered history. We performed in bits and pieces. The policy and implementation gap never narrowed down. We never huddled together to set out our economic priorities. The figures mentioned in the table are telltale signs. The democratic and army groups have ruled the country intermittently. The economic growth data when segregated on this basis will definitely reveal some interesting facts. Putting the task of such an analysis aside for the time being, we concentrate on the structure of our economy. Our bread-earner sector is agriculture. The statistics suggest that the potential of this sector was never explored, and if explored, never placed on policy anvil. Is it not unfortunate that a sector capable of yielding a growth rate of 7 per cent just eked out a meager 1.5 per cent during the last fiscal? We were often seen caught in the confusion of sector priority. For a number of years, we gave priority to manufacturing sector over agriculture sector. Then, opting for consumption-led growth, we shifted our entire focus on service sector. The recent global economic events have amply proved that we must give priority to our agriculture sector without shifting focus from other sectors. All three major sectors of the economy should grow simultaneously and unobtrusively. The social sector has always remained under the scanner of the ruling elites, be it a democratic setup or an autocratic army rule. The minimal allocations to these sectors over a number of decades prove that rooting out the feudal system at the time of the creation of this country was the surest way to prevent post birth pains that have enveloped the lives of the masses.