Perception, Market Confidence, Image, Call it by any name, but this notion is the key to the success of any economy in the world. Once the confidence shatters and the perception becomes negative even the mighty fall - No better example of this than the recent financial crisis followed by the 'New Great Recession (especially in the West), which saw nearly all Economic Icons (including the USA) simply melt under such pressure. This is why economic managers jealously guard the reputation of their respective economies and try and keep any adverse financial news or setback under tight wraps, unless of course a disclosure is absolutely essential in the larger public interest. Their argument being that while financial adversities may be lucrative and juicy cum gossipy breaking news for the media, their publicity causes more harm to business than good, since the disclosure sends an often unnecessary alarm in the markets spreading panic. Panic in-turn adversely affects perception, on which is based the underlying strength of a market economy. Further, the required corrective measures in any case will come only from the Stakeholders and therefore, are best handled quietly Regrettably, at home in an economy that is already suffering from serious 'perception syndrome this important lesson seems to be lost on our managers. News, that simply needs management action and sometimes not even that, as it represents a readjustment or settlement between entities, is instead flouted freely to undermine market confidence, whereas, the need is to act on the contrary. Prudent and mature governments are very mindful of this aspect. To stress this point, lets try and have a look at some of the recent economic news that has both been flashed in the media and projected by our Government in a grossly negative manner, whereas, it could have easily been under-played (to say the least) without affecting any of the real steps being taken by the concerned authorities to deal with it in an effective manner: * Mega BoP financial scam, which apart from the directly accused now also engulfs the leading personalities of the country. In light of such adverse publicity, who would now consider his/her money to be safe in a public-sector bank? Moreover, the move is also likely to scare away the banks blue chip corporate clients. * Energy scare - Scarcity of energy (Power & Gas) is likely to compound in the coming months. Why not take the corporate sector in confidence in advance through its various representative bodies and work out a mutually acceptable plan, thereby, redressing a growing international perception of Pakistani manufacturing being undependable on deliveries? And after having done this, to keep the situation low key? * Over publicizing of bank thefts that in the process make the public wonder about the very security of placing their assets in a bank. * Restructuring requests by leading corporate entities that nowadays is a matter of routine in the global financial markets, but at home are instead made to look as extraordinary events? * Spreading of unnecessary tax collection cum tax coercion scare in the country. There is no need to blow a trumpet about the low tax to GDP ratio and make Pakistani taxpayers look like thieves? New tax collection measures should be implemented without much fanfare. * Corruption scandals highlighted in a manner as if nothing operates above board in Pakistan and in the process further worsening the national image relating to corruption. Now as compared to the above, if we look at how our neighbor India reacts to keep its global corporate image intact and to maintain calm in its markets, their responses to economic events tell it all: * After a rather lackluster recent visit of Manmohan Singh to the USA, when Chidam-baram was asked that does this signal a shift by the U.S. to an arguably China-centric policy, his reply was aimed mainly to keep buoyancy in the economic markets of India. He stressed that, US-India economic partnership has already reached a level where the US cannot economically progress without the support of Corporate India. No indulging in gloom and doom or US bashing, but instead pampering partners on both sides * Government of India has repeatedly been giving the message on various forums that amidst the present global recession, theirs will be a consumption-led growth whereby not only will they provide stimulus to the economy, they will also at the same time facilitate the manufacturing by helping them, a) to produce more efficiently (even if this means providing short-term subsidies), b) grow their sales and c) in insulating/protecting against global trade oscillations. Must say a radically different approach from what we are taking at our end? * Anand Mahindra (boss of Indian Conglomerate, Mahindra and Mahindra) on the Satyam scam (probably the largest in India over the last decade): The magnitude of the fraud is for all intents a theoretical number. The emphasis should instead focus on the corrective action plan that in-turn does not spread panic in the firms clients, its employees and its future potential. * A. Biswa (Professor at the IIM, advising the government on economic policy): Focus on GDP growth and the growth in tax revenues will follow automatically. * The performance of the manufacturing sector in India is directly reflective of the performance of the Indian Government and therefore, we will do everything possible to provide the Indian Corporate Sector with the environment in which it can thrive. Manmohan Singh. * This is a long-term business and we need to keep calm. Indian Central Banks remark on the restructuring request by an Indian company, which is one of the largest high pressure cylinder manufacturers in Asia. Important lesson in all this being that if we have to help ourselves economically, it is about time that our economic managers (at different tiers) also stopped shooting their mouths off and instead focus on ways to seriously improve Pakistans Perception