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Archive for June, 1990

A long-term trade policy

Dr Mahbubul Haq was by far the most intelligent and articulate Economic Czar that Pakistan ever had, giving plenty of lip-service to the concept of a long-term trade strategy but except for minor cosmetic changes he did not initiate any of the structural reforms designed to expand our exports or provide for a linkage mechanism to our ever-burgeoning imports. Our imports have been criminally liberalised having detrimental effect on our Balance of Payments position, essentially we have been made a prisoner of a free market concept without enjoying the benefits of a market-oriented trade policy. On the other hand, there is growing protectionism in the developed world. In sum total Dr Haq was a disappointment for those taken in by his preaching and potential, like everyone else before him he succumbed to various vested interests from inside and/or outside the country. Essentially the problem for our bureaucracy is how to escape the greed and lust for money. There are many who have individually and/or collectively benefited at the expense of the economic future of the nation, some only to enjoy the comforts of being employed in the international bureaucracy of financial institutions.

From time to time the media has given excellent suggestions to the various governments in power, playing a critical but objective role in analysing the trade policies and giving reasonable recommendations. Unfortunately the bureaucracy is averse to accepting any new ideas unless they emanate from the IMF or similar international institutions, apropos the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce who sometime ago airily told an Economic writer that they did read his articles but paid no attention, when asked whether he could be quoted he changed his stance quite smartly.

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A long-term trade policy

Dr Mahbubul Haq was by far the most intelligent and articulate Economic Czar that Pakistan ever had, giving plenty of lip-service to the concept of a long-term trade strategy but except for minor cosmetic changes he did not initiate any of the structural reforms designed to expand our exports or provide for a linkage mechanism to our ever-burgeoning imports. Our imports have been criminally liberalised having detrimental effect on our Balance of Payments position, essentially we have been made a prisoner of a free market concept without enjoying the benefits of a market-oriented trade policy. On the other hand, there is growing protectionism in the developed world. In sum total Dr Haq was a disappointment for those taken in by his preaching and potential, like everyone else before him he succumbed to various vested interests from inside and/or outside the country. Essentially the problem for our bureaucracy is how to escape the greed and lust for money. There are many who have individually and/or collectively benefited at the expense of the economic future of the nation, some only to enjoy the comforts of being employed in the international bureaucracy of financial institutions.

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Trade pattern

(This is the FIRST of THREE articles on the SUBJECT)

he major factors influencing Balance of Payments (BoP) are the Export Receipts and the Import Expenditures. A review of the figures since 1972-73 shows that imports gradually pulling away from Export Surpluses, in 1972-73 we had a modest PLUS account of Rs 153 million (Rs 8551 million exported Rs 8398 imported), thereafter the reverse started happening with a vengeance. In 1973-74, imports exceeded exports by Rs 3.32 billion (Rs 13479 million imports Rs 10,161 million exports), in 1974-75 it jumped to Rs 10.64 billion. In 1975-76 and 1976-77 the gap was maintained at Rs 9.21 billion and Rs 11.72 billion without much change in quantum of imports and exports, thereafter the figures went berserk to Pakistan’s disadvantage. In 1977-78, the deficit became Rs 14.84 billion, 1978-79 (Rs 19.46 billion), 1979-80 (Rs 23.52 billion), 1980-81 (Rs 24.26 billion), 1981-82 (Rs 33.21 billion), 1982-83 (Rs 33.71 billion), 1983-84 (Rs 39.37 billion), 1984-85 (Rs 51.80 billion), 1985-86 (Rs 41.35 billion), 1986-87 (Rs 29.08 billion), 1987-88 (Rs 34.10 billion), 1988-89 (Rs 45.66 billion). In 1972-73, exports were pegged at Rs 8.5 billion, whereas in 1988-89 they were pegged at Rs 90.18 billion, a ten-time increase in 18 years whereas in 1972-73, imports were pegged at Rs 8.44 billion whereas in 1988-89 they were pegged at Rs 135.84 billion, increasing 16 times over the same period.

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Predicting a budget

(This is the FOURTH and CONCLUDING article in the SERIES on the FEDERAL BUDGET).

V.A. Jafarey and A.G.N Kazi have been excellent economic managers, maintaining an austere fiscal policy till the inevitable, the neophyte Ministerial politicos getting control over their departments and losing control over their spending, the business of political survival straining the public exchequer. At the same time, impending war clouds have caused justifiable allocations for expenditures by the Defence Forces, the last quarter saw a fuel-hike, real inflation (not the one with the inordinate deflators) running slightly short of beyond control. The consumer got a jolt in his pocketbook, not yet painful enough to arouse widespread street protest. Everyone believes that because of the media hoopla more direct taxes are in the offing, one tends to believe that all this is an elaborate red herring act. Failing miserably over the years in collecting on direct taxes, the Federal Government may emphasise tightening of collection of direct taxes but will keep on going the indirect taxation route for its prime revenue source.

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