The underlying question on everyone’s mind remains: Will Shaukat Tarin succeed? The prime minister brought a new finance minister – his fourth since the government was formed – and seems to hold him in high regard. Will Tarin succeed in developing Pakistan’s economy or will we remain subservient to the IMF’s whims and interference in policy matters.
Tarin’s predecessor Hafeez Shaikh shared many of the IMF’s points and perhaps went further at times. Governor SBP Reza Baqir, whom Tarin wants to retain, also shared the same viewpoint on economic stabilization to revive the economy.
Tarin has a rather different stance and thinks many of the global financial institution’s policies are excessive and intrusion in internal matters.
Tarin is certainly perturbed that the IMF is seeking to hike power tariffs which further led to inflation. He believes that stabilization is no longer affordable for our economy and we should now shift gear to economy growth or else we will at ‘God’s mercy for next four years.’ He thinks that if we continue on the path to economic stabilization like the previous two years, nothing will improve, neither revenue collection will go up, nor will job opportunities be available to revive the economy.
To start the process, the minister wants the IMF to relax its harsh conditions related to the power tariff. He wants the multi-lateral organization to have a sympathetic view towards Pakistan after our already fledgling economy was struck by the pandemic. Tarin is seen working on short, medium and long-term polices and wants a conducive relationship between the people and the government where authorities do not hound taxpayers.
Being a veteran banker himself, Tareen feels a lot of changes can be made in the banking sector. Not to forget that his own bank is in the doldrums and needs to be rescued. Just weeks ago, the troubled Silk Bank has requested the SBP to allow another extension to finalize its annual report and audited accounts. Now Tarin has stated that government should secure half of the capital required to form a company. But he also wants to privatize all enterprises which the government cannot manage.
To implement these measure, Tarin will have to face the IMF head-on and a confrontation is expected soon. Perhaps the prime minister brought him to keep the global lender at bay. Tarin said he has no idea where the economy was heading and wants to put our own house in order first. The captain of the ship has to stand firm and be strong or the vessel won’t move ahead. It may be uphill task to achieve the economic goals but certainly not impossible.
The nation has faced adversities but economic woes still continue to affect us which is the underling concern. Yet the PTI government keeps experimenting and changing players. Who will be the right person to lead our economy towards development? It needs to be seen if Tarin is indeed the right man for the job.