- Just saying so doesn’t fix the economy
Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of party stalwarts at his Bani Gala residence on Saturday to discuss the new commission on determining responsibility for debt, at which he let slip a remark that indicates part of the problem. He told the gathering that the economy had stabilised. If he was referring to the recent reduction in the trade deficit, he should have realised that had happened because of a decline in imports, and all the measures he listed at the meeting, such as the interest rates rise or the higher taxes, had not achieved their object, which was to increase exports. As a matter of fact, the rupee had fallen further on Friday to a record low, which not only indicated what the market thought of the budget as well as the proposed commission. Stability should look a little different.
If PM Khan thinks that just saying so will create stability, he indicates that he does not have much of an economic policy. He should also realise that part of the problem is that his attention is diverted. Towards the new commission, and instead of determining why he is borrowing more, it seems as if he would like to use this economic failure merely to get another stick to beat his opposition with. While no one would dispute the need for accountability, the government alone cannot carry forward the policies necessary for progress. It needs the Opposition. But first, it must realise this need. It must also realise that accountability slogans do not put money in anyone’s pocket. Nor does determining responsibility for debt help repay it.
There does not seem to be much reason for glee, but Mr Khan should realise that there are challenges ahead which mean that Pakistan is not yet out of the woods. Fast coming up is the FATF decision on Pakistan remaining on the grey-, downgrading to black- or delisting, with the IMF agreement’s approval by its Board depending on that decision. There are more direct decisions needed, primarily on how to get exports growing again. Just saying things are better doesn’t mean that they are actually better. Mr Khan has said that making U-turns is the mark of a great leader. It is time that some U-turn of the economy was achieved.