Stories about economy

We have no jobs because the state has no money

‘Pakistan is in economic dire straits!’ I hear this statement all the time. All sorts of conversations, political and otherwise, agree that the economic condition of Pakistan has become worse, but here we are still surviving and still managing. So, how messed up is our economy exactly? Read below to find out! 1. Our budget deficit Our budget deficit – that is the difference between what we have and what we spend – stands at 8.5%, when it should be close to about 4%. Simply put, we are spending way more than we are earning and because of this, we end up borrowing. When the government borrows money, it is ...

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The government cannot do everything for you

It is a paradox that I have failed to understand: Pakistanis tend to hate their government, think of it as corrupt and incompetent, but at the same time, we feel that the government should do absolutely everything for us. The average Pakistani sees absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of the government setting prices in energy and agriculture. They see nothing wrong with the government blatantly discriminating against some industries by giving others preferential treatment in the tax code and regulatory structure. And most people do not seem to have a problem with the fact that the government owns vast swathes ...

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Investing in underdeveloped sector

Usual jokes about private equity resurfaced on social media as soon as the news of former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, joining Solamere Capital — a private equity firm his son set up in 2008 — emerged on March 6. Romney’s unsuccessful bid for the White House last year is attributed, in large part, to the Democrats’ ‘propaganda’ against private equity as well as Bain Capital, which the former presidential hopeful co-founded and led as CEO until 1999. So what is it that makes private equity professionals so bad in the eyes of American liberals? A simple answer would be that they ...

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Are overseas Pakistanis any less greener?

The dilemma of resident Pakistanis being more loyal to their country than non-resident Pakistanis seems to be going on forever. Enough has already been said and written on the issue, but we just don’t seem to come out of this rhetoric. My first argument to anybody who doubts my patriotism is whether being a non-resident makes me any less Pakistani than them? For me it’s a pretty simple equation, it’s not a requisite that you can only love someone or something when you’re available in person. It can be a bonus but definitely not necessary. I acknowledge that people in Pakistan are facing abysmal ...

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Which political party is closest to the business lobby?

With general elections ahead, every leading political party claims to have the solution for the country’s chronic economic problems in their ‘economic agenda’. While some parties have revealed their economic agendas in the last few months, many have not bothered to fulfill this basic formality. There is not a single political party in the country that can claim to have the confidence of the business community. The failure of the Pakistan Peoples Party government in handling the economic affairs of Pakistan has compelled a large number of businessmen to look at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). Sensing ...

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Bring back tourism to G-B

I still remember how tourists, particularly foreigners, would openly wander around the streets of Gilgit-Baltistan before the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent start of sectarian violence in the region. G-B is one of the world’s most scenic destinations, where tourism was once the main source of income for a majority of the population. During summer, some 12 years ago, G-B would host so many foreign tourists that domestic tourists found it hard to find any accommodation. Every hotel, restaurant, guesthouse and even private residents were occupied by foreign tourists and dollars were showered in every business.  Tourists would roam around without any ...

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Talking business

I once interviewed a brilliant young man, who started a business with a total investment of Rs800 and achieved the annual turnover of one million rupees in less than three years. He was in his early 20s and had a degree in business studies. But when I asked whether his business paid taxes and was a formally registered entity, he said he had so far managed to steer clear of all government offices. Their registration procedures are tedious, he told me, and he’d rather build his business than waste time standing in queues outside government offices. So what’s the exact number ...

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Let overseas Pakistanis vote!

In a grand gesture, the Election Commission of Pakistan granted 3.7 million foreign-dwelling Pakistani nationals permission to vote in elections. Huh? I had never realised that this was a privilege, rather than a right. As with all shows of benevolence, however, there is always a catch. Excluded from this group are just as many Pakistanis who hold dual nationalities; in order to be eligible to stand for office or to be allowed to vote in Pakistan, they must surrender their non-Pakistani citizenship. Being in this particular boat, I’m inclined to ask: what, exactly, gives you the right to take away my rights? By definition, a ...

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Increasing call rates to Pakistan is plain cruelty

The recent increase in the calling rates for incoming calls to Pakistan has come as a rude shock to many overseas Pakistanis for several reasons. Firstly because there was no prior announcement of this revision in rates and secondly because the rate of increase which ranges between 300% to 800% is beyond anybody’s comprehension. It is being reported that this big increase is a result of the PTA’s decision to implement the International Clearing House (ICH) and is claimed to reduce illegal calls to Pakistan. This government has now become notorious for its illogical and poorly advised decisions but this increase in ...

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Capitalism: A blessing in disguise

The word ‘capitalism’ — or sarmaya darana nizam’ — has always had an unpleasant ring to it in Urdu language newspapers. That’s probably why one rarely finds a politician in Pakistan praising capitalism. Even our public intellectuals tend to carefully add qualifiers such as economic justice and social equity while calling for a free-market economy. However, shouldn’t the centrally planned economic system, rather than capitalism, stand discredited after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991? After all, capitalism has lifted millions of people out of poverty since its concluding triumph over socialism two decades ago. A cursory look at ...

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