Prime Minister Imran Khan has welcomed the induction of newly-appointed finance minister Shaukat Tarin into the cabinet, expressing his confidence in him by saying that he (Tarin) would work in an organised manner in order to “bring further stability” in the country’s economy. Tarin has formidable challenges before him, starting with the preparations of the next financial year’s budget oriented around inflation management, GDP growth and space creation for the government’s signature public welfare programmes. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionalities make the task all the more challenging.
With general elections due in 2023, there is now a sense of urgency, if not panic, in country’s leadership to redeem the lower inflation and higher growth promises made to public.
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin would be the government’s kingpin to make all this happen and all hopes rest on him.
Tarin’s bullish stand to take on the challenges head on is a good start, starting straight away with statistics collection and getting all the relevant government functionaries on the table to be on the same page. Tarin is widely known for building around him a strong team of willing bureaucrats and professionals. He can independently carve out for himself a free hand to do what needs to be done without depending on others to do it for him. The bets, as of today, are in his favour that he will be able to deliver what needs to be delivered in the next two years.
But what remain out of his control and influence are the impediments such as political uncertainty, over-indulgence of investigation agencies and frequent judicial interventions in business and economic affairs. All these have a severe impact on fiscal stability and economic growth of the country.
This is where the political leadership has to deliver to achieve its fiscal and economic goals which, under the given circumstances, should have a clear precedence over all other considerations.
For political leadership, the temptation for political expediency and score-settling with opponents often takes precedence over their agenda of economic excellence and public welfare and the promises made to their voters are set aside. This proves to be a grave mistake as at the end only the redemption of promises made counts.
The incumbent government will be better off, and so will be the nation, if political expediency is set aside for the remaining two years and the entire energy is expended on creating an enabling environment to achieve fiscal stability, economic excellence and laid out or set goals.
(The writer is a former President of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021