Open letter to Shahbaz Sharif

If you knew anything of economics and governance policies, I would not be writing to you today...

Anique Sewani October 18, 2011
Dear Mr Shahbaz Sharif, 

If only you knew a little about economics and governance policies, I would not have been writing this letter today.

For the past couple of weeks I have been hearing and reading constant malicious criticism from you and your fellow political puppets on the Government of Pakistan's policy on two weekly holidays. Keeping the power shortfall debate aside for which this policy has been implemented, I would like to state certain economic arguments in favour of this policy, which of course you would have known of, if you would have ever taken an economics course in school or had a sane and learned economist on your political party think tank team (I wonder if there is a think tank team).

Firstly, I would like to educate you on the indispensable economic concept of workforce productivity, which is the amount of goods and services that a worker produces in a given amount of time. It is worth noting that the revised regulation has certainly not decreased the number of working hours, which still stands at 43 hours per week, 7.5% above the global benchmark of 40 hours per week.  This revision in policy has, in fact, resulted in efficient allocation of work hours within a given week, which is evident by mere simple cost-benefit analysis of comparing the economic cost (fuel, transportation, utilities) of working on Saturdays against the amount of goods and services produced by the workforce in a half day.

I totally understand your fear of the two-day weekly holiday, and I also recognize the primary motive behind such stern resistance from your side. Being an industrialist, you and your industrialist friends will now have to pay your workforce overtime for making them work on a Saturday, which will surely impact your profitability and margins but then, what is the harm in sharing your margins with your own workforce in the form of overtime allowance?

Don't we all want to eradicate the disparity of incomes between various classes and impede the capitalist greed?

Moving on let me introduce to you the concept of 'consumption driven economic growth' and diversification benefits which the economy shall reap from this two day weekly holiday structure. At a time when the central bank has taken expansionary policy measures by reducing the discount rate by 150 basis points, the add-on for providing consumers two-day weekly holidays shall act as an ideal catalyst for increasing domestic consumption and growth of the various untapped sectors of the economy, which includes internal tourism, hospitality and entertainment industry.

It is worth noting that during this year Eid holidays all major travel destinations in Pakistan were packed to the core with travellers literally sleeping inside their cars due to non-availability of accommodation facilities. Moreover, if you just travel around the urban cities of Pakistan on a weekend and look at the number of people dining out and exploring entertainment opportunities, you would realize the potential within this sector.

This simply implies that consumers are willing to consume and have high regard for travelling and entertainment, even under this distressed environment. Such consumer attitude is noticeable enough and private sector investment within this industry shall follow provided that the government continues its policy of providing adequate time to the labour force for leisure and entertainment, which shall fuel economic growth and development of underdeveloped sectors in the long run.

I would not go any further on this subject as I could probably keep writing forever but I would highly appreciate if you keep your personal interest aside and think as Pakistani and for the people of Pakistan.


A citizen of Pakistan
Anique Sewani An investment banker at one of the largest banks in Pakistan, Anique is also a CFA charter holder and is currently studying economics at IBA Karachi. His passion is to work towards infrastructure development which will eventually fuel economic growth in Pakistan.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.