Stories about finance minister

Spilling tea with Asad Umar: Being a finance minister is ‘tough’

Right after his meetings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, I had the opportunity to sit down for tea with Finance Minister Asad Umar at the Pakistani consulate in New York City. We talked about his negotiations with the IMF, unpacked his outlook on the Pakistani economy as well as the personal toll this job is taking on him. The second thing I noticed about Umar when he entered the room was how tall he actually is in person. The first thing I noticed was how visibly exhausted he looks. By nature, he is an irrepressibly optimistic ...

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Dear Murad Ali Shah, do you even know what Sindh’s tax collectors are upto?

Dear Murad Ali Shah, It is well known that if you want to get anything done in your province, you have to pay the right people. In most cases, the right people are the ‘baboos’ as they are the ones who can skilfully insert whatever you want in any document knowing that the person who approves it will do so without reading it. Sometimes, if a baboo is not paid anything or not paid what he wants, he can do the opposite; he can get a tax imposed or increased on a particular commodity or service. This is what seems to have happened in the recently announced Sindh budget. ...

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Corruption is now accepted as a fact of life in Pakistan

Perhaps the greatest danger to Pakistan is corruption. We can stand up to any hostile army trying to invade our sacred land, but corruption is eating away at our foundation, like termites which ultimately cause houses to collapse. Owing to corruption, the government is not able to collect enough revenue, making it necessary to borrow from the IMF, which ultimately makes the country poorer and adversely affects our ability to defend the nation from terrorists and hostile enemies. Corruption has enabled Pakistanis to invest Rs85 billion during the past six months and Rs512 billion in the past two and a half years ...

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Nawaz Sharif underwent serious surgery: Should a deputy PM have been appointed?

Amidst heated demands of resignation following his family’s deep involvement in offshore tax activity coming to light with the Panama Paper reveals Prime Minister Sharif hastily left for London last week. Jumping where they saw opportunity, his political detractors, in a game of ‘I told you so’ accused the country’s leader for having fled for good until news surfaced, from within the PM’s family camp, that he had in fact gone for a necessary, emergency open heart surgery – a risky yet routine procedure and the PM’s second such surgery in recent years. At 66 years of age, the prime minister of Pakistan ...

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Quaid-e-Azam inter-provincial games: A light at the end of Pakistan’s barren sports tunnel

What is it about Lionel Messi that excites fans as he dribbles the ball across the field? What gives players like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic the ability to hypnotise fans as they compete on the court? Is Usain Bolt’s speed really a big deal, after all, he did only run a 100-meter race at the Olympics. It seems as though for the average Pakistani, everything that is remotely foreign seems to be infinitely more appealing, but does that really come as a surprise? Pakistan’s football team is ranked 190th in the world, we are still raving about Aisamul Haq’s success ...

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Why the Punjab budget is useless

Each year, as Member Punjab Assembly (MPA), when I returned home after the budget speech with a pile of hefty books containing the budget documents, I found myself more interested in the supplementary budget than in the budget statement itself. It seems more productive to focus on what the government has actually done instead of what it expects and promises to do. While a budget statement would give you an insight into what revenues a government expects to generate, and the expenditures it intends to make in the coming year, a supplementary budget gives you a report of what the government actually made and spent ...

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A pro-poor budget with the rich in mind? Cute, Mr Ishaq Dar, cute!

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it” – Joseph Goebbels Goebbels was one of the most prominent propagandists during Hitler’s era; the man was a magician. I mean, if someone can sell Hitler and his ideology to millions of people at a time, then he definitely deserves respect. And therefore, I virtually have the same respect for our long line of finance ministers, who have the guts to come on television every year, present a horrendous budget for the common man, and then dub it “ghareebon ka budget” (poor people’s ...

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The new found friendship of Mufti Sarkar, Kashmir and Pakistan

In his first tenure as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed contrived a healing-touch policy. This policy revolves around Kashmiri victims of abuse who require healing. It also considers Kashmiris as an alienated segment from India and therefore requires to be integrated into society. Considered as a “soft-separatist” political party, a narrative constructed by the media, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been instrumental in pacifying not only scores of youth, but have also been successful in involving many journalists, activists and academics in the party fold. In his second innings, Mufti appears to be trying to take his integrationist ...

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Pakistani Twitterati took on the #PetrolShortage and here is what happened

Already frustrated by crippling electricity and gas shortages, Pakistanis now have another crisis on their hands. This time around, Pakistanis are standing in mammoth queues just to secure a drop of petrol. The ‘petrol crisis’, as it is being referred, brought to light some interesting and entertaining observations on the country’s favourite government-bashing platform: Twitter. Three hashtags are currently being used to respond to the petrol shortage in the country; #PMLNpetrolchor was the top trend, with it being used over 19,500 times in the past 24 hours and #PetrolShortage and #SherBanoSher were each tweeted nearly 6,000 times since yesterday. We look at how people reacted: This @Reuters report ...

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Dear finance minister, your new budget is killing us

Dear Finance Minister, I belong to the class of ‘common men’; some people also call us ‘mango men’ or ‘aam admi’. Ours is a species that is found in abundance everywhere in Pakistan. If you ever look out of your bullet proof BMW, you will notice one of my fellow beings selling something or the other on a footpath. We are also found polishing shoes, unloading trucks, offering window covers during a traffic signal, pouring hot tea in a cup at a tea stall, pushing a fruit or vegetable cart or driving a donkey cart loaded with a number of things. There ...

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