Imported economists

Nadeem Moulvi

The writer is a business analyst.

The problem is that Pakistan has always imported economists. These gentlemen have worked in global financial institutions, commercial banks, investment funds and corporations. They are then appointed as advisers, special assistants and ministers. We have always developed political economists who cannot make the country into a welfare state which the government has envisaged.

Take for example some of the recent appointments to top economic positions. Former Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh is an economist of international repute with over thirty years of experience in policy making, management and implementation. He is a distinguished economist who remained affiliated with the World Bank during his career advising on economic reforms in over 35 countries. Similarly, incumbent State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir also held numerous positions in the IMF including Mission Chief in Romania and Bulgaria right before his employment.

We need to understand that our economic problems cannot be resolved by those who don’t understand the people of Pakistan and their problems.

They need to realize the sufferings of the masses rather than taking unilateral decisions in executive board meetings and impose them on the entire population. They would take decisions either to appease the government and retain their coveted posts or the global institutions who they remain under contractual obligations.

We cannot expect these economists to reduce interest rates to levels seen in the US or Europe. They have always hiked policy rates which traps money supply and stops it from moving towards developing trade and business. Neither will these economists ever reduce taxes because they need to generate revenue and continue with their luxuries at taxpayer’s expense. Political parties hire these technocrats not because they don’t have the expertise but because they want to continue the system. And certainly they will never reduce the cost of electricity as they are never worried about paying bills or live even a moment without ACs.

Economists have a pivotal role in developing a nation. They are the brains behind achieving economic growth, development, generating employment, controlling inflation, and reducing cost of living. Since our economists have lived a lavish lifestyle and studied from western institutes, we cannot expect them to understand our problems and reduce the burden on the masses living in abject poverty.

The prime minister only appoints ministers and advisers who serves their vested interests. They may be able to manage bureaucratic corporations, pull the loopholes and a few strings to run things smoothly but the common man suffers. The premier should realize and appoint those adhering to his vision of serving the masses and developing the ideal welfare state.

Our state institutions are supposed to serve the public but there are being run by political individuals who only provide comfort to the rich. The organizations end up running into losses and are sold off to the private sector. We are then left with no option but to expensive products from private firms. We need to develop our organizations and provide facilities. All sectors must have those who understand the situation rather than these imported economists.