Economy: on the verge of collapse?
Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh’s warning to officials of the state, delivered in a sombre meeting late last month, could not be clearer: the government, federal and provincial, is on the verge of financial collapse. So dire is the state of affairs that the government may not have money to pay salaries in a few months. Lest this be dismissed as hyperbole, Mr Sheikh’s comments have been echoed privately by many economists and experts familiar with state finances in recent weeks. In fact, if anything the finance minister’s comments are on the more optimistic side of dire.
The basic problem is clear: the Pakistani state, all tiers of government, spends twice as much as revenue generated, while neither is expenditure being curtailed nor are revenues being meaningfully increased. At the level of the citizenry, the immediate impact is felt in the form of rising inflation (sustained budget deficits of the kind Pakistan has had over the last few years are highly inflationary in nature) while in the long term it will be felt in terms of debt servicing crowding out investments in development and infrastructure.
The blame must be shared by everyone. …
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