The National Assembly decided on Friday that a committee of the House will examine the loans that have been taken by the government, and how they were spent, from 1985 to date after PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal had pointed out that the huge loans taken by the government were not reflected in any development work. The Speaker is to form the committee in a week and it will file its report in two months. The public debt, as MNA Ahsan Iqbal noted, has reached Rs 12 trillion, but the situation of the ordinary citizen has worsened, and it seems that the government, from the top down, has taken a lackadaisical approach to the problem, even though virtually the only thing a government can do at times like these is to control its expenditure. However, the government has preferred to maintain a luxurious lifestyle at the taxpayer’s expense. Government borrowing is supposed to be incurred when two conditions are met: first, that the purpose be productive; second, that there be a clear means of repaying the loan. Neither condition has been fulfilled and the government, or rather the permanent bureaucracy, will have to provide information about the operations of the government. This comes after the State Bank had noted that the government was being run on loans. The time period of the last 25 years given to the committee may provide the current government the ‘previous governments’ excuse, but it should note that not only is the Musharraf regime covered, but also the previous PPP governments.One of the aspects that deserves examining is that the committee must examine closely who have been the beneficiaries of the loans, and why the taxpayer has been made to bear that burden. Whatever use is made by the committee of the information it receives, the coming into the public domain of that information is itself very useful at a juncture when the parties preparing for elections both figure repeatedly in this. It would also be useful if the provincial assemblies were to follow suit in examining loans taken by the provincial governments, using the same committee mechanism.There is the danger that the Treasury is using the committee method so as to bury the subject. It must not. The government should view this as an opportunity to bring an end to the speculation that surrounds the subject. After all, a misuse of loans means a heightened inflation rate, which means that the common man suffers, as does the party in office. The report of the committee, when it comes, may be embarrassing to the government, but it must be made public.