The number of international donor agreements and loans that we have undertaken is mind-numbing to keep track of. Just today, the IMF has agreed a plan to end the Rs 600 billion circular debt in the power sector , the Asian Development Bank has agreed a to a $6 million figure to build power infrastructure in Pakistan, and the IMF has also agreed to release a $506 million tranche of its loans package. We seem to be rolling in money. Shouldn’t we have solved the energy crisis by now? And even if we in Pakistan are grossly inefficient at money management and policy creation, what are the IMF and ADB doing throwing money at us, sitting pretty, as their plans and projects achieve next to nothing? Would it really make things so much worse, if today, the financial machinery of Pakistan decided, that it wasn’t going to take any more money from anyone? What as the past thirty years of IMF loans and constant austerity brought us?
With respect to the ending of circular debt, there is a consensus between the IMF and the government to eliminate the debt in three years by increasing the allowance of losses in electricity tariff adjustments and privatisation of power distribution companies. Instead of cutting actual reasons for line losses, this will increase the burden on those who already pay for electricity. Under the plan, the privatisation of three distribution companies — Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad — will be completed during the next fiscal year, a miracle in the waiting. As for the IMF tranche, the priority will be to widen the tax net to create space for infrastructure investment and social assistance, improve business climate and further strengthening external reserve buffers… nothing that we haven’t heard before. We have been around the block before, and the numbers keep coming. A million dollars here, a billion rupees there, amounts the common man cant even fathom. One can’t help but sit in the dark and be cynical.