World Bank bears down

No quick fixes to this mess of an economy

The World Bank’s report on the Pakistan economy seemed very critical of the PTI’s performance, and saw an economy under great pressure, with the government not doing enough to handle the situation. It predicted growth of merely 1.3 percent in the current fiscal, which is anemic, and well below the 6-7 percent needed for the economy to deal with the kind of problems caused by a ballooning population. Another worrisome factor is the increasing debt burden, which the Bank says will peak at a record 94 percent of GDP this fiscal. The Bank has also noted that the government has not fulfilled its promises of cutting public debt and doubling revenue. In its annual South Economic Focus report, the World Bank noted that the government had not achieved either, despite changing five FBR Chairmen, and three Finance Ministers.

The government seems hoist on its own petard. If it endlessly quotes every scrap of praise by some foreigner, (any foreigner), it should also have the courage to face the criticism that might come from abroad. The debt situation seems most horrifying, with public debt 72.5 percent of GDP when the PTI came to power, projected to hit 94.4 percent next fiscal year. At that rate, it might well cross 100 percent if this government completes its full term. There is also the problem of inflation, which the World Bank does not see going away. It also seems that the government should give up on its effort to praise itself incessantly, and divert the resources it devotes to that effort, both in terms of money and man-hours, to actually doing something about the economy.

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Contrary to what Prime Minister Imran Khan thought prior to the election, managing the economy is not a matter of simply ending corruption, but a complex combination of factors which it is showing itself not quite able to handle. The faster the government realizes this, the faster it can get down to the kind of thought needed for successful economic management. There is still enough time left in its tenure for the government to show its seriousness, as well as its realization that there are no quick fixes.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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