Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain said on Monday that most finance ministers have tried to prove themselves as the Messiah instead of correcting the economic corruption. He said these finance ministers have caused irreparable damage to the economy in a bid to gain popularity. He said that instead of increasing exports, boosting the tax-to-GDP ratio, and luring foreign investment, the finance ministers have been busy tampering with the exchange and interest rates, giving the impression of artificial growth.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that foreign ministers’ gimmickry remained counterproductive and damaged our relations with the IMF and other international institutions.
He said that after signing any agreement with the IMF, we cheated the institution by reducing gasoline and electricity prices against the agreement, which worsened the situation.
In the past several decades, assurances have been given to the people and international institutions to sell off failed government institutions, implement necessary reforms, provide relief to taxpayers, bring non-taxpayers into the tax net, reduce deficits, and end smuggling, but this is not the case, he observed.
To reduce the budget deficit, action is taken against taxpayers instead of tax evaders, and the people are squeezed more. Still, these policies will not last long because the country protests. The business leader said that even in these circumstances, the dollar’s value may decrease to 50 rupees if political stability is ensured and serious steps are taken to increase exports.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that according to some economic experts, the Pakistani rupee is 14 percent undervalued. Every government in Pakistan has claimed to improve the situation, but it has caused more damage to the country, for which the people have to pay a heavy price. As the country moves towards destruction, instead of finding a solution, loud claims are being repeated.
Mian Zahid Hussain added that the top experts are included in the current caretaker government; more than two weeks have passed, but no reform agenda has come out yet, while the IMF review is also due in November.
In these circumstances, the government must immediately bring forward the agenda of privatisation of failed government institutions, increase the tax net, eliminate electricity theft and line losses, and take visible steps to increase exports.
Mian Zahid Hussain further said that all the political parties and the establishment need to come on the same page regarding the agenda of the revival of the economy, and for this, the military leadership has to play its role; otherwise, the promises of relief to the people will remain empty slogans.