Unaccounted for leakages | Pakistan Today

Unaccounted for leakages

It takes a lot for one to go back into the sophomore, idealistic, capitalist-bashing mode, especially when one is amongst many running the race for survival. But to sit back and analyse what we have made of the economic growth in not long gone yester years reveals none but one gross reality; we have changed our clothes without taking a shower!
Re-inspecting the much forgotten multinational debate; benefits are aligned with employment creation, technological spillovers whereas the theoretical negative side with repatriation of dividends and profits. There are other behavioural negatives as well, such as the nation psychologically relying on temporary FDI or multinational investment and treating it as an inexhaustible source or a permanent indicator of structural change.
Take the telecom industry for instance. The telecommunication authority lauds external investors for channeling most of their money into telecom in the last five years. But, the gradual tapering off of the FDI is just taken as a sign of saturation or matured demand in the market. Specifically, during the last three years Telecom FDI has declined from $5.4b in FY08 to $2.2b in FY10, in other words from more than 25 per cent of the FDI to 17 per cent in the last fiscal year. Moreover, on the repatriation front about $ 47m and $ 33.3m was sent back to parent countries/companies in the form of dividends and profits in the months of Jul-Aug alone during FY11 and FY12 respectively. Take a whole year’s account and the picture would be much clearer.
The story does not end here. During FY11, telecom apparatus imports amounted to $766m of which $218m belonged to mobile phone imports. In all 66 precarious years of this country’s existence, we have not been able to give our youth education, we have not been able to give our poor shelter, but we have managed to spend about Rs23b on buying new and fancy phones. And supposedly, communication is the way to go! Why sir, may I ask then did the GDP fall short when the ground is ripe to reap exponential gains?
On a completely different tangent, there are other disconcerting things that we have managed to successfully shower millions upon; sugar being a prized example. In FY08, the country imported $51m on sugar imports, which some how ballooned to $287m in FY09 and $ 650m in FY10. This only goes on to show that the government has been trying to retain its constituencies by feeding them sweets. Because, such degraded are our set of imperative demands, that we do not holler when our children have no future to pursue, but we vehemently complain when we don’t have sugar to consume or rather over consume.
The successes of India and China have started from their homes, their cultures which heavily promote austerity. Examples exist of average Indian and Chinese students abroad usually coming from backgrounds that pride on histories of less extravagance, less consumption and more saving. One wonders when the mullahs come up with shari’a laws, why don’t they promote sagacious personal discipline that will actually take their people some away from uncertainty and discontent. This society’s ills thus lie with false pretenses, confused identities and priorities. Our predominantly Muslim ‘majority’ needs to seriously learn to differentiate between beliefs and practices that are according to jargon ’unproductive’. The survivor only survives if he struggles towards surviving. There is no continuity in death, slandering and murder.
The writer is an economic researcher and freelance financial journalist

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