Economic survey: the way forward

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SOURCEThe Express Tribune
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The economic survey serves as a prelude to the budget releasing today to confirm allocations to various sectors. One day prior, upon news that the government did not meet any of its economic targets, Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a special message to fellow citizens regarding declaration of assets, including an amnesty period to bring benami accounts into the government’s knowledge. Three percentage points below its target of 6.3%, individual sectors also posted stunted growth. However, to criticise the current ruling party for this disappointment is unfair. Our economic mess began a decade ago with two other governments in power; the current economy was merely inherited by the incumbent PTI.

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Privy to declining economic conditions, PM Khan rearranged several members of his cabinet while releasing others such as former finance minister Asad Umar. The timing of the uprooting caught citizens by surprise but against murmurs of rising economic debt, we understood why. The new members in their respective positions will require time to study loopholes in our economic policies and issue more strategic directives and suggestions to the PM in order to restore to the national kitty what rightfully belongs to it.

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PM Khan’s iteration of Pakistan being one of the most charitable nations is quite a paradox. Shoddy economic policies and corrupt practices in the last decade allowed the rich to get richer, forcing the poor to get poorer. The only saving grace for persons below the poverty line has been surviving through charitable donations. The charity often comes from the very people who made their money from unethical work and were answerable to no one. Proper tax collection all of these years would have produced an alternative fate for the economy with lower debt-servicing burdens.

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Policies being implemented by our financial advisers are slowly becoming strict but patience is required to reach the masses. It is critical that the PTI continue to first target wealthy tycoons who have withheld taxes owed to the country, before affecting lower and middle socioeconomic classes. This will need to be pursued somewhat aggressively to rescue the economy.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2019.

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