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The Economics of Despair

Just a day before the Presidential Address marking the beginning of the 3rd Parliamentary year for the present National Assembly, Mr VA Jafarey, Advisor to the PM on Finance and Economic Affairs, made a “surprise” announcement on prime time national media that the Federal Government had decided to devalue the Rupee by 7% and increase fuel prices by a commensurate amount while imposing some “temporary” regulatory duties (10% on dutiable and 5% on non-dutiable as long as the total tariff did not exceed 65%). Wheat, fertilizers and import of power generation plants under the energy policy (upto a maximum of 3000 MW) were exempted. The official US dollar parity with the Pakistani Rupee has weakened to Pakistan’s detriment from Rs31.85 to Rs 34.25, a difference of Rs 2.40. The Pakistani Rupee has thus depreciated Rs 3.28 or (10.59%) from Rs 30.97 in the four months since the Federal Budget in June 1995, unofficially it will be pegged closer to Rs 35 (an actual devaluation of 13%), the figure it should “officially” cross by end December 1995. One feels that the Government should have gone the whole distance in one go instead of creeping to that figure.