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Tuesday May 28, 2024

Capital suggestion: Minimal politics

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
October 01, 2023

Fact 1: Presently, four out of every ten Pakistanis find themselves below the poverty line. Fact 2: Over the course of the past three decades, no political government has successfully delivered effective governance. Fact 3: Over the past three decades, no political administration has managed to make rational economic decisions. Fact 4: Today, each and every Pakistani, regardless of age or gender, carries a burden of debt amounting to Rs300,000.

Question: What is the single most common thread tying these four facts together? Answer: excessive politicization of economic policies.

Here is a partial list of countries that practice ‘minimization of politics’ over economic decision-making: South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Chile, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Botswana, Rwanda, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Iceland, Belgium, Japan, France, Israel, Spain and Italy.

The concept of ‘minimization of politics’ refers to efforts or strategies aimed at reducing or limiting the influence of political considerations over economic decision-making. The idea is to create spaces or processes that are less susceptible to political manipulation and more focused on technical or objective criteria.

An effective strategy for minimizing the influence of politics in economic decision-making is to delegate authority to technocrats or subject matter experts who possess specialized knowledge and expertise. This approach prioritizes the use of data-driven and evidence-based methodologies rather than succumbing to political considerations.

By entrusting decision-making to individuals with a deep understanding of their respective fields, policies and actions can be formulated and executed more objectively, with a focus on achieving optimal outcomes for the greater good. This not only enhances the quality of decisions but also helps insulate them from the fluctuations and biases inherent in political processes. In essence, relying on technocrats or experts acts as a safeguard against undue politicization and promotes more rational and informed decision-making.

An alternative method for reducing the impact of politics on economic decision-making involves establishing independent regulatory bodies or agencies that are shielded from political intervention.

Depoliticizing public services is yet another approach. This involves ensuring that the provision of essential services like education and healthcare is based on need and efficiency rather than political patronage.

South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Chile, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Botswana, Rwanda, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Iceland, Belgium, Japan, France, Israel, Spain and Italy practicing 'minimization of politics' over economic decision-making serves as a source of inspiration.

Pakistan serves as a poignant case study where the prioritization of political interests over the common good has led to widespread poverty, ineffective governance, irrational economic choices, and escalating public debt.

The imperative for Pakistan lies in embracing the principle of 'minimization of politics' in economic decision-making. For the nation, this approach is not just a choice but a necessity, offering the promise of a more prosperous and optimistic future.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. He tweets/posts @saleemfarrukh and can be reached at: farrukh15@hotmail.com