The biggest tragedy of it all is that the poor suffer more and are rendered poorer.
A third of our population lives below the poverty line, and a majority of them are deprived of basic services including access to clean water, sanitation, health, education and even sufficient food. A recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), presented its outlook for Pakistan for 2011, which paints a rather gloomy picture of our economy: It predicts that national output will pick up modestly this year, and will be accompanied by unrelenting inflation and a weakening external financial position. Its estimate of 3.7 per cent for the increase in GDP for 2012 is considerably lower than the government’s estimate of 4.5 per cent.
If truth be told, given those who have a hand in running this government, it comes as no surprise that the GDP forecast is grossly overrated. Nor is it surprising that no lessons were learnt from last year’s floods or any attempt at taking preemptive measures was taken for this year’s monsoon, knowing full well, that much of the would be generated by the agriculture sector. With almost 80 per cent of the crops destroyed or still under water, there seems little chance of meeting this goal.
The tragedy is not just that we are humiliated in the international forum for our poor policies and lackadaisical governance, or our lack of credibility, or the fact that Pakistan most likely will stop receiving loans in the future owing to its ever-increasing circular debt. No, the biggest tragedy of it all is that the poor suffer more and are rendered poorer. The bottom line of not meeting our annual GDP growth targets and ranking consistently low on numerous quality-of-life indicators implies that if anything, these people will be the first ones to go under, and the irony is that they are the ones most in need of help.
The ADB report brings to light the harsh realities of our short-term future policies in terms of setting more realistic targets and the government would do well to analyse and implement them. For Pakistan, it should be no irony that the ADB’s forecast of a dreary economy for the coming years, matches the plight of those who try and live off that economy.