A festival of failures

July 07, 2020

LAHORE: This is the first government ever that is celebrating its failures in almost every field and is acting like an ostrich with its head buried in sand, believing it would avoid the wrath of the...

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LAHORE: This is the first government ever that is celebrating its failures in almost every field and is acting like an ostrich with its head buried in sand, believing it would avoid the wrath of the electorate.

The confidence with which the government propagates its failures as huge success is an enigma for most experts. The economy has been on a roller-coaster ride since PTI came into power, yet its leaders claim they have stabilised the economy. They accuse the previous regimes of taking huge loans, yet in their 21-month rule they have borrowed more, both domestic and foreign, loans than any other government in five years. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP has been clipped by $51 billion in less than two years, while the country posted its first negative growth in five decades under this regime.

During the PPP government the World Bank, in one of its commentaries, has commended the resilience of Pakistani economy that continues to grow (though at slow pace) even during adverse economic conditions. This government has even sapped the economy of that resilience. Pakistan’s per capita income is now the lowest among India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

It looks that jobs are food for this regime. The unemployment rate in the country has ballooned from 5.8 percent in 2017-18 to over 8 percent now. Predictions are it would go up further. All poor households have been deprived of two square meals during past two years. The lower middle-class families are making compromises to be able to feed their loved ones.

The well-to-do families belonging to mid-level executives are hard-pressed to maintain decent living. Everything has gone out of common man’s reach.

The power rates are at all-time high. The devaluation of rupees has put further pressure of energy cost. The gas rates have been raised twice and we are expecting another hike soon. Petroleum products rates eased for a while but are now on an upward trajectory. Again, the lower value of rupee against dollar is impacting the petroleum rates adversely. The regime poses itself as the champion of the poor and claims to be pursuing pro-poor policies.

All governments are very sensitive as far as food prices are concerned. This government looks the other way when prices of edibles increase. None of the unjust and cartelized increases in food prices have been addressed. Among the edibles rates of each major food item has touched its historic high during the 21-month tenure of this regime. Hike in food prices have never been so sharp during the five-year stints of previous three government. The edible oil and tea rates are high because of rupee devaluation. These two commodities are imported. The rates of mutton have increased by 15 percent, beef 10 percent, poultry 30 percent, milk 15 percent, and pulses by 40-120 percent. Vegetable rates on average have increased by 20-40 percent. Wheat flour, the staple food of the population, has seen an increase of 25 percent in prices during past six months. Sugar rates have increased by at least 30 percent.

This government boasts of transparency, yet people associated with the ruling party are involved in numerous shady affairs.

The sugar and wheat profiteering scams are now well-documented writings on the wall. The Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) issue is a mystery that remains unresolved. This government accuses others of hiding behind stay orders, but it is doing the same in BRT case. The so-called austerity government has perhaps the largest cabinet in our history.

This government failed to achieve most of the revenue targets it set in previous two budgets. The exports in last two years were less than the exports in 2017-18. The large-scale manufacturing contracted sharply in past two fiscal. This government blamed are the ills that erupted during its era to the misrule of previous regimes. Now that COVID-19 has hit the country the failures on economic front are being attributed to the pandemic. This government has never admitted the failure of its policies. Instead it is touting its failures as success though it has marginalised the masses and might have benefitted some cronies.

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