Mohammad Zubair |
Imran Khan has said that they [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf] didn’t know how bad the economy was before coming into power. Since coming into power, all PTI ministers have said the same.
Coming from the PM, it’s extremely important to understand the rationale of this statement. That is why they need to clarify what part of the economy they didn’t know about before coming into power. Among the several indicators which one was not clear to them?
1. Current Account deficit
2. Trade deficit
3. Total debt about which PTI had made so much fuss and accused PMLN of putting Pakistan in a debt trap. The reality, however, is quite different. During PMLN’s 5 year period, total debt increased from Rs 14 trillion to 24 trillion – a total increase of Rs 10 trillion over 5 years – an average of 2 trillion per annum. Since PTI govt has taken over, debt has increased to Rs 26.5 trillion- an increase of 2.5 trillion in just 5 months. Was Imran not informed of this extremely important figure and how is it shaping in the last 5 months.
4. GDP growth at 5.8% – the highest in a decade including growth for manufacturing, agriculture & services. What was not Known?—-that GDP is at a record level and that we have had outstanding manufacturing and services growth.
5. The position of total tax revenues for last year as well as all preceding years. Didn’t they know that tax revenues have literally doubled in the last 5 years and that has helped provinces to receive record amounts for them to invest in education, healthcare, infrastructure, public transportation, water plants, etc.
6. The rate of inflation which remained in single digits throughout the 5 year period hitting as low as 2.4%; almost remaining below 5% in the entire period.
7. Export numbers
8. International oil prices
9. Ratings for Pakistan’s economy by global institutions such as Moody’s, S&P which consistently improved throughout PMLN’s tenure but unfortunately has been downgraded in recent months.
10. The behavior of the stock market during 2013- 2018 during which time it went up from 19000 index to 53000 index over 4 years – the most phenomenal rise in our history. Our stock market remained one of the best-performing markets in the world. Reforms were undertaken during this period that helped merge the 3 stock markets and enabled Pakistan getting the upgrade from frontier markets to emerging markets.
11. The state of public sector organizations.
12. The composition of Pakistan’s imports including plant and machinery that constituted a significant amount of our import bill and which will help Pakistan’s future economic growth.
13. The trend of our exports which grew at a very healthy 13% in the last fiscal year of PMLN tenure.
14. The international economic challenges including the situation in the Middle East and slowing down of the Chinese economy.
15. The positive trend of Foreign Direct Investment.
16. State bank’s policy rate including the fact that it touched the lowest levels in more than 40 years. During this period it went down to as low as 5.75%. This low discount rate helped businesses to borrow at a very low interest rate. From 5.75% it has now reached a high of 10.25% reflecting State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) concern for high inflation.
17. Were they unaware of the low-interest-rate environment?
18. The energy situation in the country including the addition of 11000 MGW that helped the industry to operate 24*7 and helped reduce load shedding in a significant way.
19. The security situation which threatened Pakistan’s existence back in 2013 and significant improvements during PMLN tenure. The complete turnaround of Karachi’s law and order which remained as one of the most dangerous cities in the world in 2013 to a normal functioning city with zero terrorist activity between May 2015 to June 2018 and not a single lockdown for the first time since 1994.
Read more: Is Imran Khan confused?
Didn’t PTI know that the staging of PSL final in Karachi was not just a sporting event? It was the final confirmation of the peace dividend that had been achieved with so much difficulty. The significant improvement in Karachi’s law and order helped revive economic activity for the first time in more than 2 decades. Along with the revival of economic activity, Karachi also witnessed the revival of cultural, social and sporting activities.
I might have missed a few economic numbers but these would basically sum up the entire economic activities.
For information, during the last tenure, Asad Umar was heading the powerful National Assembly Industries and Production committee. He was also part of the finance committee. Several other high-ranking PTI members were part of the powerful Senate and National Assembly committees. They had access to all information and could seek any information from any ministry. They also regularly attended important briefings from federal ministers, Governor SBP, head of key institutions that would have allowed them to understand economic situation in the country.
For them to say, that they didn’t know the state of the economy could either be due to complete incompetence to comprehend economics and business or they are not telling the truth. In either case, it’s a sad state and reflects very poorly on the PTI leadership. Also if they did not know the situation, what was the basis of their economic plan including the very visionary ideas such as 50 lac housing units and 1 crore jobs.
As for what was happening in PMLN hometown Punjab, they had to read, what one of their best and respected cabinet minister, Dr. Ishrat had written in late 2017. According to him and he definitely knew what he was writing in his book, Punjab was by miles the best-performing province with Shahbaz Sharif showing how well to govern the province. According to Dr. Ishrat, Shahbaz Sharif set high standards in governance, health care, education, infrastructure, etc .with the kind of transparency not reflected in other provinces.
Would Imran Khan and his team finally tell the nation why they didn’t know the basic economic fundamentals and how badly it has costed Pakistan?
Will Imran Khan and his senior leadership care to answer these 2 questions:
1. What Imran n PTI leadership didn’t know?
2. And why didn’t they know?
Mohammad Zubair has served as Governor of Sindh and Chairman Board of Investment during the period 2013-18. He held important positions in the corporate sector including as country head of IBM in Gulf. He is also a senior PML-N leader. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.