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loan default

Services Sector

As an agri-based economy it is easy to understand why easy credit was available early on in Pakistan in this sector in the 50 years or so of our existence as a nation. To ease the pressure on agriculture, large-scale diversion into the manufacturing sector was carried out in the 60s and 70s, embarking on a virtual industrial revolution that spent large amounts of money on textile mills as well as a whole range of small, medium and heavy industries. On the Harvard model as applicable in Japan, exports became the key. China and the four Asian Tigers followed the same model. Maximum credit was directed primarily to support industries churning out traditional exports of cotton and cotton-based derivatives and secondly to building up non-traditional exports. Whatever gains were made in the medium and heavy industries was wiped out by the sweeping nationalisation of the early 70s by the Bhutto regime, during late Zia’s regime both industrialists and agriculturists became entrepreneurs. Loan default became a business in its own right despite the authoritarian nature of the regime, there being a lack of street credit control with the advent of controlled democracy in 1985. The years 1998, 1993 and 1997 are landmarks inasmuch as each successive political regime force-multiplied the loan default by interfering politically in the recurring process specifically and in the nationalised banking industry, both with nationalised commercial banks (NCBs) and development finance institutions (DFIs), generally. With the “Day of Redemption”, Nov 16, only a couple of days or so ago, it is time to take stock of why so much credit was showered on virtually one sector alone, with a negligible amount in comparison to the agriculture sector and almost nothing if any, to the services sector.