Government’s ‘deft’ somersault

  • Dr Farrukh Saleem’s economic censure should be addressed

The issue cannot be termed a storm in a teacup, hardly a waft or gust even, but it has been handled in such a clumsy manner that the ruling party is again being shown in a bad light over a relatively trivial matter. Dr Farrukh is a well-known commentator on fiscal affairs and backs his argument with solid facts and figures which lend authenticity to his viewpoint. The federal information minister, on the other hand, is a restless, head-in-the-clouds figure, who feels free to trespass in other ministers’ spheres, an example being his somewhat rude-sounding tweet on the recent security shakeup in Afghanistan, which strictly fell in the foreign affairs’ domain. He had also, preferably instead of the finance ministry, twitter-trumpeted the appointment of Dr Farrukh on October 9 last as the government spokesperson on economy and energy affairs. But the required formal notification was never made, with the good doctor quietly carrying out his duties of essentially defending the government’s economic policies, and attending meetings held in the prime minister’s house till December 24, 2018. And then comes the sudden twist in the tale…

It cannot be said with certainty that Dr Farrukh was actually piqued at his prolonged ambiguous official standing, without its accompanying monetary and job-sweetener privileges, while still obliged to rack his brains over the not-inconsiderable work his specialised post entailed. But in a television talk show on Tuesday, he shot off on an opposite tangent, uttering a few lines of candid criticism of the government’s fiscal performance, in essence, that it was slack in tackling the urgent economic issues and was sweeping them under the carpet, while emphasising the adoption of an alternate strategy. He was unhappy at 30 percent rupee devaluation, which had not helped boost exports, and that the annual interest on one-year foreign loans was adding around $2 billion per month to the current account deficit. The media minister’s latest ‘disowning’ tweet, which pins Dr Farrukh’s non-appointment to the prime minister’s current non-hiring policy, clarifies, but not simplifies, the crucial matter. A detailed official rejoinder to Dr Farrukh’s considered apprehensions regarding the present state of the economy is essential, as ‘the patient seems to be scarcely breathing’.