Balancing short term interests with long term vision

Writing for Dawn, Mushtaq Khan discusses the issue of Pakistan’s impending sovereign default and explores the reasons behind it. 

Over the past seven years, Pakistan has accumulated a current account deficit of $74.5 billion, with the State Bank’s forex reserves dropping by $3.6bn during this period. To finance this deficit, Pakistan has borrowed $65bn as foreign investment has not been enough to cover the external deficit. 

The lack of investment in building a dollar repayment capacity has led to an unsustainable external sector, with Pakistan now facing the challenge of reducing imports to balance the deficit. The government has taken emergency measures, but the IMF is against ad hoc measures and is pushing for a more orthodox policy to reduce import demand. 

This, however, presents challenges as it could lead to inflation, undermine the banking system, and create loan defaults. To find a middle ground, policymakers must identify winning and losing sectors and develop a long-term strategy that includes import substitution to reduce dependence on imports. 

Pakistan’s reliance on remittances as a major source of foreign exchange earnings is also problematic. While remittances have helped sustain the country’s external sector, they are not a long-term solution. The government must focus on creating an environment that fosters sustainable economic growth, which in turn will attract foreign investment and create more job opportunities for its citizens.

One potential solution to Pakistan’s economic challenges is to focus on developing its domestic industries, particularly in sectors where the country has a comparative advantage. This will require a significant investment in education and training, as well as regulatory reforms to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

Another key area for improvement is the energy sector. Pakistan has been struggling with power shortages for years, which has stifled economic growth and deterred foreign investors. The government must prioritize investments in renewable energy sources and infrastructure to ensure a stable and reliable energy supply.

The challenge is to balance the needs of the people with the short-term interests of the elite and work towards a stable and growing economy that benefits everyone. While the road ahead may be difficult, it is important for policymakers to prioritize long-term economic stability and growth for the benefit of all Pakistanis.


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Monitoring Desk
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