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Opinion

Capital suggestion

September 9, 2018

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$1 trillion

Corruption kills. Yes, 290,000 newborn Pakistanis die every year before the end of their first month. Yes, 176, 400 Pakistani children die annually due to premature birth. For the record, “Pakistan is the riskiest country for newborns – riskiest in the world”.

A “baby born in Pakistan – the country with the worst newborn mortality rate – faced a one in 22 chance of death.” Pakistan’s ‘mother mortality ratio’ is also one the worst in the world. Yes, 53,000 Pakistani children die of diarrhoea caused by contaminated water every year.

Corruption kills. According to the ONE Campaign, the international, non-profit advocacy group that fights extreme poverty: “The world’s developing countries are deprived of at least $1 trillion each year by criminals who exploit impenetrable secrecy to siphon off cash through money laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement.”

The average per capita income in Norway is $91,000. The average per capita income in Pakistan is $1,600. Why? What is the difference between Norway and Pakistan? Answer 1: Norway is one of the least corrupt countries. Answer 2: Norway has institutions that work. Pakistan is the 116th most corrupt country and institutions in Pakistan don’t work.

The government of Pakistan buys goods and services worth $60 billion or Rs7.5 trillion a year every year. Yes, there is a Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). But PPRA doesn’t work or isn’t allowed to work. As a result, between 30 percent and 60 percent of this $60 billion goes towards corruption. Will the PTI government be able to reform this sector?

The government of Pakistan owns and operates a total of 190 public-sector enterprises (PSEs).Over the past five years, PSEs collectively lost a colossal Rs3.7 trillion. In 2013, PSE-related losses stood at Rs495 billion but in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, losses increased to Rs570 billion, Rs712 billion, Rs862 billion and Rs1.1 trillion, respectively. Corruption, inefficiencies, or a combination of both? Will the PTI government be able to reform this sector?

The government of Pakistan buys $13 billion worth of electricity a year. Around $3 billion worth of electricity is stolen and $2 billion is siphoned off by electricity producers (because of over-priced production). Will the PTI government be able to reform this sector?

Pakistan’s natural gas sector is in a mess. There’s a new kind of circular debt – Rs165 billion for the SNGPL and Rs203 billion for the SSGCL. Gas tariffs have to be rationalised and the quantity of stolen gas must be brought down. Will the PTI government be able to reform this sector?

According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, “Corruption kills. Nearly 870 million people go to bed hungry every night. The money stolen through corruption every year is enough to feed the world’s hungry 80 times over”.

A talented police officer once explained to me the difference between ‘need-based corruption’ and ‘greed-based corruption’. Our problem is greed-based corruption that is killing Pakistanis in the millions.

Norway is rich, Pakistan is poor. Norway is one of the least corrupt countries; Pakistan is the 116th most corrupt country. Norway is rich, Pakistan is poor. Norway has institutions that work; Pakistan has institutions that don’t work.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

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