Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh seemed happy when he stated that Pakistan’s growth rate is expected to grow by four percent. Far below what is needed at the moment, this is still a gradual progress compared to the past few years. And if there has been some actual improvement in the growth rate as well as the overall state of affairs as the Finance Minister would have us believe, it has not had an impact one would like to see.

True, the government has been paying off the IMF’s debt regularly; it has been impatiently acting on those of its terms that pertain to raising oil and electricity’s prices while egregiously slow in following those that could as a matter of fact halt inflation. At root of the problem are the same foibles; the government has been borrowing too much from the central bank. The fiscal discipline is adhered to but in words only; the government ministers have been spending a lot not so much on development projects as on their personal luxuries. Likewise, not many steps have been taken to attract foreign investment, the energy conundrum and the poor law and order being the major ones. Financial misdemeanours and management issues so common in top industrial enterprises in particular and revenue collection departments in general further ensures that the national kitty is deprived of reportedly hundreds of billions of rupees. ‘Stability in the system’ and sustained economic growth are interlinked; when for instance, investors besides the finance ministry and the FBR know that the government is there to stay and is also going to keep a close check on them, the growth picks up pace. This time around, it comes as a relief that the Finance Minister has been concerned about how he could bring opportunities of prosperity to the downtrodden in Fata, Balochistan and Gilgat-Baltistan as he announced that projects were underway to fight poverty in these areas.

What needs to be addressed simultaneously is the implacable drawback of the economy. Even when it is growing, the windfall does not trickle down to the poorer classes of society; they rather tend to pronounce the gap between the rich and poor. The catalyst that can push the country towards prosperity is altogether of a different dimension, one that needs to gradually move away from reliance on aid largesse, and IMF’s diktat.