Khan: the man with a plan.

For years, Pakistan has evaded structural reforms and has instead managed with mere cosmetic changes to satisfy the conditionalities of successive IMF programmes. But this lackluster approach is not likely to work any longer. Lenders are tired of listening to the same excuses every time. Friendly countries that had bailed out Pakistan in the past are up to the brim. IMF and other multilateral donors have become non-sparing, and with changing geopolitical realities, the generous US payouts have dried up.

Even domestically, the capacity in the economy to withstand pressure has thinned out substantially. Our exports have always been low, but populous measures by successive governments have led to insurmountable external debt. Therefore, with rising interest payments and debt repayments leaving hardly any room for a growth in import bill, even a short spell of growth leads to unmanageable current account deficit. The pressure is absorbed by rupee devaluation, which leads to excessively high inflation.

Years of inefficient economic management and decades of neglect have started to bear fruit. Institutional rent seeking and rampant corruption have eaten away the country's foundation like termite. A rusting civil service and decaying institutions have not helped either. Pakistan can no longer afford complacency.

The country is therefore ripe for reforms, irrespective of whether we opt for self-prescribed bitter pills or let the IMF shove the medicine down our throats. The next IMF programme, which the country should expect within the current year, will make us forget the harshness of the existing programme. The only way out is to have a home-grown reform agenda and to have it fast. But the real question is who will bell the cat.

At present, Imran Khan is the only one with a plan and there is no one better than him to lead Pakistan through a difficult reform journey.

Last week Khan presented the broad contours of his reform plan, touching all the critical issues. He spoke about addressing the persistent fiscal deficit. The country needs to spend less and earn more and PTI aims to start from cutting down unproductive public sector expenditure, especially by re-structuring or privatising bleeding state-owned enterprises. We also need to defuse the ticking pension bomb and PTI is the only party having that realisation. On the revenue side, Khan indicated that bringing in already identified new taxpayers within the tax net would be his foremost...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT