Economist Atif Mian urges next government to outline priorities – Business

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WASHINGTON: Atif Mian, a distinguished Pakistani-American economist and Princeton University professor, has urged the nation’s future leaders to brace themselves for a difficult financial journey and to outline priorities for restoration.

Mian emphasised the nation’s constant world financial decline, highlighting final 12 months’s contraction and alarming macroeconomic indicators corresponding to inflation, stunted development, escalating debt, and diminishing funding.

“The federal government has reached a essential level the place it lacks the monetary means to maintain primary operations, unable to pay the salaries of even low-rating staff with out resorting to borrowing,” Mian remarked.

He identified that all the tax income is exhausted after disbursing shares to provinces, settling pensions for retirees, and servicing the burgeoning debt, leaving the government working on a perpetual deficit. He asserted that the dire financial scenario exacerbates inflation, making it uncontrollable inside a deficit-pushed governance construction.

Mian additionally argued that development turns into an unattainable purpose when the government is unable to make investments sooner or later due to monetary constraints. “The nation is bankrupt, sinking deeper yearly. I’ve by no means seen such despondency. So many wanting to depart, established corporations not snug investing,” stated Mian, emphasising the gravity of the scenario.

Addressing the Feb 8 elections, Mian highlighted the folks’s frustration, stating, “People are mad — they usually have each proper to be.”

He underscored the staggering human value of poverty, citing the alarming statistic of 442,353 kids dying in Pakistan final 12 months due to impoverished situations. Mian criticised the institution for taking part in “traditional video games,” manipulating the political panorama with out addressing the urgent financial challenges.

In the aftermath of the elections, Mian noticed a widening hole between the ruling elite and the overall populace, emphasising the potential risks related to such a disconnect. He famous the institution’s makes an attempt to kind a compromised government however questioned its effectiveness, stating, “No one has a plan to repair the economic system, however even when they magically did in some way, they can not do something as a result of they’ve misplaced all belief with their folks. They are foreigners in their very own land.”

On Monday, the Atlantic Council convened a digital dialog in Washington the place consultants delved into the intricate implications of Pakistan’s political economic system within the aftermath of the Feb 8 elections.

Safiya Ghori-Ahmad from McLarty Associates underlined Pakistan’s concern about being recognised as credible by the US.

“Pakistan doesn’t need to be part of the nations not recognised as credible by the US,” she stated. She was additionally essential of one other government initiative, the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), because it was nonetheless not clear how that may work.

She highlighted the importance of the next few weeks in observing the nation’s transformation, notably in its relations with the IMF and efforts to handle inflation.

Ammar H. Khan, a nonresident senior fellow on the Council’s South Asia Centre, outlined the highest precedence for the next 100 days — addressing the vitality disaster.

Published in Dawn, February thirteenth, 2024

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