How to stand up to America

Farrukh Saleem

ISLAMABAD: President House spending Rs13 lakh a day is not sustainable. Prime Minister’s Secretariat spending Rs15 lakh a day is not sustainable. The Cabinet Division spending Rs80 lakh a day is not sustainable. None of this is sustainable for as long as three out of four Pakistanis make Rs125 a day or less.

Pakistan Railways (PR), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) and Utility Stores Corporation (USC) collectively end up losing Rs360 billion a year, Rs100 crore a day every day of the year. This must end. Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) has lost Rs90 billion over the past 12 months. That must end.

We need a government that can end political interference into the affairs of Pakistan Railways, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills and Passco.

We need a government that can re-organize PIA and PR. We need a government that can re-position PIA and PR. We need a government that understands the sequencing of reforms.

We cannot have an entire team of federal ministers spending Rs1 lakh a day every day of the year. We cannot dole out crores to MNAs and Senators in the name of ‘development’ any more.

Direct overt US economic-related aid over FY2002-2012 has amounted to $7.4 billion. Direct overt US security-related disbursements over FY2002-2012 have amounted to $14.6 billion. Since November 2008, we have extracted some $8 billion from the IMF. Most of these billions are about to end. Plus, we would have to pay back $1.5 billion to the IMF in 2012 in addition to more than $5 billion worth of debt servicing.

Pakistan is bleeding. Our economy is in a state of hypovolemia, already having lost a massive amount of blood. Exsanguination is hypovolemic to a degree that causes death. First things first; we need a government that can stop the hemorrhaging (revenue enhancement can come later).

We must stand up to America. We need a government that can undertake a three-pronged strategy: political costs of running the state have to be brought down; Public Sector Enterprises have to be disciplined; Power sector has to be restructured. Pakistan’s existence as an effective state is at stake. And these are the bare minimums.

Source: The News International

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