ISLAMABAD: Economic experts, while comparing the performance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) governments in their first 100 days, have said that it could be easily judged from the required measures, taken in right directions or not.
In this perceptive, the PTI’s 100 days performance could be compared with the first 100 days of the PML-N government. The PTI government stands nowhere when compared with that of PML-N.
It was pointed out that Ishaq Dar, after taking the oath, announced 19 prior actions in the budget to secure the bailout package from the IMF. Dar managed to sign $6.4 billion bailout package on July 4, 2013, with no chaos and uncertainty at all. The confidence of the investors and stock market restored within no time.
The first action he took to layoff Rs483 billion which were payable to IPPs ensured an increase in electricity generation by 1500-1700MW at the time when the country was facing 22 hours load shedding.
The Rs483 billion were disbursed in 55 days. The PML-N economic managers’ team, headed by Ishaq Dar, was clear-headed as they did a lot of homework prior to joining the government. When the PML-N came to power the country was virtually on the verge of default as State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) reserves were at $2.75 billion with zero external inflows.
However, the finance ministry’s top officials, on the condition of anonymity, admitted in lengthy background discussions the bitter fact that Asad Umar, who knew well that he would be the PTI government’s finance minister, did no homework to tackle the country’s economy.
Asad Umar, the experts argued, has failed in the short-term management on tackling the economy and getting the country out of chaos, but his team is on the toes on long-term management. This resulted in dollars appreciation.
However, total appreciation of dollar value increased by 30 per cent from Rs105 to 115 in Abbasi era, and during the caretaker regime dollar further appreciated to Rs125. In the PTI government, the dollar value went up to Rs135 in the open market on account of indecisiveness owing to which Pakistan debt has increased by Rs3,000 billion and stock market suffered a loss of Rs1,000 billion.
The government has done nothing on expectation management too as the PTI stalwarts have raised the masses’ expectations by saying they will get huge relief and the people will feel the change in real terms in the first 100 days of the PTI government.
However, they said that the government has taken the much-awaited action in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The Policy Wing has been separated from the administration and cabinet will soon approve this initiative, and on top of that organisational development plan in FBR is also ready and will roll out by end of January. And the more to come and be implemented in FBR, which will help yield required dividends.
In the first 100 days of the PTI government, foreign direct investment tumbled by 55 per cent, fiscal deficit increased to 1.4 per cent if compared with the corresponding month of the last year which stood at 1.2 per cent. The revenue target of Rs68 billion has been missed as it grew by 7-8 per cent only. Development expenditure has been slashed down by 25 per cent in PSDP and 50 per cent in Punjab development budget causing a surge in unemployment.
However, contrary to the claims of Prime Minister Imran Khan about austerity drive, expenditures have increased by 17-19 per cent.
More importantly, inflation has swelled to close to 7 per cent. The wholesale consumer index price has jacked up by 13 per cent which will further fuel the consumer price at retail level exposing the masses to another deadliest wave of inflation.
The sizeable cuts in the federal and Punjab develop budgets will trigger a surge in unemployment. The growth in large manufacturing scale turned negative. However, the oil prices in the international market have decreased from $75 per barrel to below $50 barrel which will be not less than a bonus for the government and time will tell how the government’s economic managers take the advantage of the low prices of oil in the global market in favour of country’s economy.