Read the tolling of alarmist economic bells

Pakistan is a unique country in many respects in spite of this fact we keep creating new records. Although it looks strange that tycoons of business community mostly close to the government decided to meet Gen Bajwa Chief of Army Staff and exploded before him on the deteriorating economic condition of the country which is causing unrest in the country. The delegation comprised mostly members of Pakistan Business Council including former President of FPCCI Zubair Tufail, to discuss burning issues, uncertainty, lack of clarity in government policies, negative growth in large scale manufacturing and political situation. Unfortunately FBR feels, thinks, confident, and at ease and hopeful to complete the targets by squeezing the business community through notices and raids, little realizing in a country where cost of business is already sky high this formula shall not work. They made it clear that units are closing down causing un employment specially the labour class who can be seen on the busy roads begging like beggars. This is also true that certain businessman with the help of custom officials have been evading taxes again a part of our culture
Let this be stated very clearly in an unambiguous words that business community has demonstrated that government has failed to redress their concerns as always is the case Army is the last hope of Pakistan. They decided to meet the army chief to discuss and apprise him about the critical economic condition that is counting last days in ICU and there is no hope to move out from ICU except move to final abode. Meeting of business community with the army chief on economic situation due to wrong policies adopted by government should be viewed in the right context. FPCCI in Oct 2017 held a seminar in Karachi in collaboration with ISPR in which COAS was the chief guest. This present meeting with COAS by a section of media has been criticized as usual but one should see what are the ground realities. At present Pakistan is threatened by hostile neighbour and unless we are economically strong we cannot meet the challenges, therefore meeting with COAS was to emphasize the need for more internal stability and security environments. But it is also true that we should not over burden army chief on those issues which is exclusive domain of the civil government.
To recall business community leaders had earlier met Gen Bajwa in Karachi on 11January 2019 and expressed their fears about collapse of economy if proper remedial measures were not taken. Since downward trend continued businessman started shutting down their businesses creating more unemployment where as government promised to provide 10 million jobs in 5 years was in self contradiction. In the last meeting COAS had assured them that their concerns will be conveyed to the government and seeing no progress on the problems so as last hope they again assembled to convey their problems. The business tycoons were very vocal and told COAS if the situation is not handled on emergency basis this will further deteriorate, at the same time COAS also drew attention about their unfriendly activities.
No doubt current account deficit (CAD) is low and brought under control but GDP growth is falling and inflation rising is damaging the economy. How can FBR generate revenue without business activities? There is always a limit when the glass is full anything poured will spill over, not understood by FBR.At present FBR is focusing on aggressive tax collection but in fact is causing great scare in economic activity without realizing tax collection is by- product of healthy economic activity. What is needed is friendly approach towards tax payers and control on government expenditure.
Business community also expressed reservations about NAB activities against them which are affecting normal business activities but denied by NAB. Corruption rate has increased instead declining coupled with slow foreign direct investment is affecting the business. FBR is also not clear about certain measures being taken, sometimes get firm on condition of CNIC and the next announcement comes of deferment for 2 months. Such policies create uncertainties that retard the growth of business. The business community suffered major setback when rupee was devalued to Rs 156 and they have not yet recovered from that shock. Adhocism in economic policies is forcing local businessman to shut their businesses resulting in more unemployment and deterring foreign investors. With borrowed mandate and tried economic masters has resulted in total collapse of economy as is evident from the fact that PM has issued letters to 27 ministries for their poor performance. No need to feel happy in assuring IMF that process of privatization will be accelerated and targets of economic development will be achieved. Selling state assets at throw away prices shall result in laying off one million people adding to more poverty which is on high pitch should be taken as alarm bell.
Gen Bajwa said that National security is intimately linked to economy while prosperity is function of balance in security needs and economic growth. On one hand many business leaders and economic experts welcome a greater role for the army but others are concerned about their increasing role for the military shall weaken the democracy. But this is not true because Prime Minister many a times has stated that government and the army are on one page that’s why IK gave three years extension to Gen Bajwa in spite of his reluctance. It is true that nations budget deficit rose to 8.9% in the year ended June, 2019 the highest in three decades should be matter of concern. Due to reduced production in car manufacturing and cement industry the workforce is being laid off that is more worrying. The government graph is dwindling it can only be raised by businessman therefore don’t squeeze them anymore and drive them to dead end. Opposition planning a great showdown should be matter of great concern, the army is the only hope that can save Imran Khan from his down fall therefore he must deliver and take opposition on board. In any case this is not good omen where business community meets army chief on economic issues should be taken seriously by the govrnment.

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