BEWARE OF AN ECONOMIC DEBACLE! SQUEEZE LOW HANGING FRUITS

PTI fault lines have surfaced again. FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi has picked up cudgels
publicly. His grief, why Jahangir Tareen got to brief the cabinet. It’s a public relations
disaster. Give us a break Shahji. Such outburst don’t suit mature adults. This incident
depicts a larger malaise that confounds the Pakistanis in public life. We pretend to be
self-righteous when it suits us and turn a blind eye when it does not. Jahangir Tareen is
a grounded politician who moves strategically. He is also an innovator, but more
important he is a progressive farmer who has a lot to offer in improving Agriculture
sector. He is a Subject Matter expert in this field and PM needs 10 JKT replicas in other
sectors if he has to succeed.

This takes me to another extremely important aspect challenging PTI Government. Let
me start by stating I am trained as an economist and continue to be a student in this
field. The contents of a recent report by State bank on the economy is quite damning.
Inflation in items of daily use is spinning out of control. It is beginning to deeply hurt the
salaried class which has no recourse to “upper ke amdan”. This class also happens to
be the backbone of PTI like the traders were for PML(N). On top of it the hapless
Finance Minister announces “this is nothing, in the coming days there will be more that
will make the public scream”. Come on Asad Umar you continue to inflict wounds
without offering any balm! You keep repeating,“all this is happening because of loot and
plunder of the previous regimes. Pakistanis have to sacrifice”. All fine and dandy but the
question arises – what are you doing to change all this? Blaming the past is not going to
give public any relief, your clearly defined and announced initiatives is what will give
hope to the people and protect PTI credibility. They need to see a silver lining justifying
the pain they are being put through. You have to think outside the box, you have to be
creative in areas that can generate revenue and jobs. Reach out to the requisite
expertise. It is available but you need to get off your high horse and approach them!

PTI fault lines have surfaced again. FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi has picked up cudgels publicly. His grief, why Jahangir Tareen got to brief the cabinet. It’s a public relations disaster. Give us a break Shahji. Such outburst don’t suit mature adults. This incident depicts a larger malaise that confounds the Pakistanis in public life. We pretend to be self-righteous when it suits us and turn a blind eye when it does not. Jahangir Tareen is a grounded politician who moves strategically. He is also an innovator, but more important he is a progressive farmer who has a lot to offer in improving Agriculture sector. He is a Subject Matter expert in this field and PM needs 10 JKT replicas in other sectors if he has to succeed. This takes me to another extremely important aspect challenging PTI Government. Let me start by stating I am trained as an economist and continue to be a student in this field. The contents of a recent report by State bank on the economy is quite damning. Inflation in items of daily use is spinning out of control. It is beginning to deeply hurt the salaried class which has no recourse to “upper ke amdan”. This class also happens to be the backbone of PTI like the traders were for PML(N). On top of it the hapless Finance Minister announces “this is nothing, in the coming days there will be more that will make the public scream”. Come on Asad Umar you continue to inflict wounds without offering any balm! You keep repeating,“all this is happening because of loot and plunder of the previous regimes. Pakistanis have to sacrifice”. All fine and dandy but the question arises – what are you doing to change all this? Blaming the past is not going to give public any relief, your clearly defined and announced initiatives is what will give hope to the people and protect PTI credibility. They need to see a silver lining justifying the pain they are being put through. You have to think outside the box, you have to be creative in areas that can generate revenue and jobs. Reach out to the requisite expertise. It is available but you need to get off your high horse and approach them!

Asad Umar is playing with fire. The dollar continues to grow stronger. Rupee is
losing value. It will fuel further inflation. More importantly it is giving
insecurity to the nation. It is perceived as if things are out of control due
to inefficiency of a rookie PTI team. Even worse, it is a huge negative in terms of future investments.
Capital expenditure is needed to grow the economy to increase revenue and
create jobs. The local capitalist will not invest, fearing your coercive
announcements and fear of NAB coupled with falling rupee value. It will
increase flight of capital. The foreign capital will shy away because they
calculate returns in dollars which is diminishing by the day. Step up Mr. Umar
and take some bold steps. Pakistan has a huge black economy. Be creative,
unfold plans to incentivise and channelize this huge resource to become
productive. Lure the local investor. Unusual times require unusual measures.
Flight of capital is a self fulfilling prophesy that only leaves devastation in
its path.

Let me identify some low hanging fruits that can yield immediate results.Prime Minister Imran Khan has introduced e-visas, removed the NOC requirements. It will open doors for
tourism. He is passionate about this sector because he has extensively
travelled the country. In the recent Tourism Summit he has clearly identified
its potential and profitability. Revenue starts immediately from the arrival lounges and travels
all the way to the remotest parts of Pakistan, those who need it the most. He
has promoted a vision. Tourists are an economic resource generating jobs and
income. They are not intruders. I fully endorse this. I have seen this around
the world in many countries. Turkey, Caribbean countries, Cuba, the list is
long. Let me dwell on Cuba where communism still prevails. Their economy is in
tatters, the people are poor. But they discovered the magic of tourism. Every
visitor is a VIP. Their security is ensured ruthlessly. They have created safe
havens for tourists who choose their own lifestyles within lawful boundaries and
protecting local environment. Cuba attracted 5 million tourists in 2018. If
they spend a minimum of $1000 dollars per head it is $5 billion dollars. It has
created huge employment. Hospitality is a hot subject for students. With the
beaches, mountains and the religious sites, Pakistan has a huge potential. IK
please ensure follow through.

Next area of focus should be to collect from the looters. Leading the pack is Nawaz
Sharif and Asif Zardari. In year 2000 NS left Pakistan obtaining relief from
Gen Musharraf based on his ill health. What is the present effort based on? Ill
health. NS can’t handle jail. Keep up the pressure and it will yield results.

Zardari is another story. He is a mastermind in strategizing. Upon getting elected in
2008 he realized that Bhutto legacy will take him only so far. His domain has
shrunk. It will be confined to Sind. He cleverly crafted the 18th
Amendment leaving the Center toothless in terms of resources. 18th
Amendment is nothing more than a money grab. Look at the NFC award. Provinces
get all the money and center is a pauper. They are penniless after servicing
the debt created by reckless borrowing and looting by previous regimes.

He is a hard nut to crack. Tons of evidence has been
collected. He needs to be prosecuted. NAB is doing a great job at
investigating. Where it falls apart is its prosecution arm. Quality of NAB
lawyers needs to be upgraded to prepare and present seamless files leading to
early completion and convictions. Prosecuting white collar crimes is a
specialized field. Subject matter experts need to be engaged.

Between the two of them we can recover $15 to $20 billion. Low hanging fruits that need
to be squeezed rather quickly. I will identify other sectors in the next post.

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