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Archive for May, 1989

Federal Budget circa 1990 – III

The coming Federal Budget exposed Pakistan and the Federal Government to the financial ills inherited from the past, not the least of them being a foreign debt burden of US$ 19 billion with almost US$ 6 billion lying unutilized due to inefficient bureaucratic practices. Already plans for a LONG MARCH on Islamabad post-budget are afoot, it being taken for granted that there will be reason enough to make an attempt to bring the streets into the front-line of the Dump-Benazir campaign (or as it is probably known, Anybody But Benazir (ABB). One does not have to be a soothsayer to predict tragic consequences for the country, encouraging the neutrals, or the Great Silent Majority if you please, to take a “plague on both your houses” attitude. The Federal Government needs to elicit support from all sections of the people to find answers to the problems troubling the economy. It behoves the opposition to respond in kind for the sake of the nation. Let’s not play games with economy, in the end the masses that have voted the governments into power need the elected to tend to the more serious matter of ameliorating their atrocious living standards.

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Federal Budget circa 1990 – II

The coming Federal Budget promises to be a milestone, a truly once-in-a-decade turn in the financial road should be more than expected, the PM has been dropping enough warnings of impending tough measures. With a populist Government dedicated to the task of finding solutions for the common man, yet hobbled with an economy in utter shambles because of muddled half-baked policies towards the fag end of the last regime, the Federal Budget promises to be a fine balancing act between the need to re-invigorate the economy by giving intending (and present) entrepreneurs due incentive and the contradictory need for imposing more taxes as a form of additional revenue to run the business of Government. What is more possible is that the Government goes in for a one-time massive devaluation, telescoping the creeping method projected for the next year, thus building up badly-needed government revenues. This is in all senses of the word a risky enterprise, with the increase in cost of import, inflation is a sure bet. Big business has not taken to its heels at the advent of PPP, on the contrary amazing accommodation has been shown, barring few aberrations, on both the sides to come to a mutual working arrangement, this is a significant milestone for democracy, business feeling safer historically with the stability of Martial Law Governments. One wishes that the same pragmatism would be seen in the relationship between the Centre and the Province of Punjab so that Pakistan should shrug itself off from the present state of limbo and get on with the task of economic emancipation. The churlishness has gone far enough, the governments at the Federal level and the Provinces are not petulant Under-19 teams.

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State of the Economy

The business of elections is now past, the nation having delivered its verdict, the important thing now is to knuckle down to the realities of governing a country. In order of priority the first issue to come to grips with is the economy of the country. For a short period of time and till November 19, 1988, the masses were the most important commodity in Pakistan, one week into the post-election process the perceptions of being shrugged off is manifest in the horse-trading confined to a few elected representatives in seemingly smoke-filled corridors and the back-rooms of power. While the political process is one of compromise and any other route leads to disaster, political parties do not have any right to compromise on the commitments made to the electorate.

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Labour pangs

May 1 is celebrated as a day for Labour throughout the world, in Pakistan it has special significance because the daughter of the man who gave workers in Pakistan an awareness of its rights, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is now Prime Minister in her own right. There is no doubt that her government has inherited many of the frustrations that have engulfed labour over the past decade, which now threaten to submerge the new-found freedom under a fresh democracy if it is allowed to run riot, pun intended.

Pakistan has evolved one of the most comprehensive set of labour laws in the world with definitive accomplishment in the stated-for purposes inherent in its codification. For a third world country this is quite an achievement except that in its implementation there is much left to be desired on all sides. These labour laws are not only the principles governing the welfare and contentment of labour but also the parameters allowing entrepreneurs to analyze the risk of investment in any venture and then plan their further input into any field of enterprise.

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