economics is simple common sense made difficult. Why? Because common sense
entails real, concrete changes to solve lingering problems -- changes our kings
and queen(s) are seldom willing to make -- and because the short term
adjustments economists in our country so eagerly suggest often offer easy
solutions for the short period of a monarch’s reign -- solutions which the
sovereign wants people to think of as the outcome of his brilliant performance
rather than as mere adjustments (even though people find the solutions
short-lived after the king is replaced by another king through elections or a
coup d’ etat). The result: unintelligible gobbledegook that paints an optimistic
picture of a worsening situation and continued fiddling by the ruler with
economic tools to afford him and his cohorts a prolonged binge of merry making.
But now the
time has come when even short-term measures do not deliver -- not even short
term solutions. Real change -- in the structure of the economy -- has become
exports of a country by making goods exported cheaper to other countries through
devaluation might be regarded, with a great stretch of one’s imagination, as an
‘export strategy’ -- as our rulers would like to present it -- when the
devaluation is not entailed by a serious widening of the country’s trade gap.
Since in Pakistan’s case, it is the inevitable outcome of continual depreciation
of the rupee, it should be taken as an eye-opener rather than as a strategy to
The demand for
our imports and the demand for our exports are relatively inelastic -- that is
the demand does not change much in response to a change in price. The result is
higher cost of living (due to more expensive import of items as edible oil, tea,
potatoes, etc.) and greater cost of production (due to the increase in the
import of raw material and industrial inputs). Above all, the greatest
expenditure of them all, debt servicing, which, as a snowball, is getting bigger
and bigger, becomes more expensive as well.
discipline and pragmatic and wise economic planning are the need of the hour.
These things can be effective only with greater discipline in the daily lives of
the affluent in our society and with a change in their basic priorities.
squandering of resources. No more stress on style rather than on substance. More
investment in human resource capital. Greater emphasis on developing indigenous
enterprise to build a truly pervasive industrial base -- and all those nice
things we usually think of as mere moral precepts and which are actually very
But all this
requires sacrifice. Not by the poor. They are already ‘being sacrificed’.
Sacrifice by the affluent. And most of all, by the rulers -- the kings and the
queen(s) and the nobility. If they could genuinely be more interested in the
development of the economy than in increasing their own fortune, we might be
able to escape from the clutches of the international ‘money lenders’ whose
‘conditions’ the whole nation has to bear to afford our rulers the luxuries
without which they can’t serve the poor.
leaders change their priorities for the sake of our nation? Do they have the
altruism, the will and the sagacity to do that?
Let’s take out
our lamps in broad daylight to look for a ‘man’. Isn’t there even one among our
leaders? That’s the question.