Debt and despair


Each Pakistani is over fifty thousand rupees in debt, more than half of it foreign. The debts that previous governments have incurred are the gift that keeps on taking. This pound of flesh basically renders us absolutely unable to get out of the vicious cycle that we are in. This is in no way to imply that our own house is in order. Our misplaced fiscal priorities serve only to exacerbate the problem: defence and debt servicing eat up the lions share of our resources, cutting off investment onto those areas of the economy that would, in turn, yield increase in our productivity.

The world is changing. The green revolution has been milked for all that it was good and increasing populations and global economic trends are ensuring that the era of cheap food is now over. All of this is depressingly Malthusian. And all of it is staring us in the face. In this day and age, then, perhaps physical insecurity from another country is not as much of a problem as food insecurity. Specially since the populations of nemesis states are alarmingly food insecure themselves.

So there are the debts, then there is the skewed perspective of the non-political powers that be in the country, then there are the inefficiencies and limited space of our political governments. In the midst of all of this, comes one of the biggest natural disasters in our countrys history. The economic dimensions of this tragedy are not clear yet because the dust, so to speak, has not quite settled yet. Already, the Federal Bureau of Revenue has revised downwards its target of revenue receipts for the year, one upon which hinged many, many developmental budgets. If there was ever a time to overhaul the entire skeleton of the public finance framework, this is it.