PM’s address

Promises of reform, austerity measures and investment have been heard countless times before, but without follow-up

Editorial June 17, 2024


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s address to the nation, delivered before the auspicious Eidul Azha holidays, brought a familiar sense of déjà vu as it largely mirrored similar rhetoric heard from past administrations. His speech echoed references from inherited issues, promises of austerity and hopeful projections for the future.

The highlight of the address was a resolute vow that this would be Pakistan’s final reliance on IMF bailouts. The PM conceded that the newly unveiled budget aligns closely with IMF priorities. However, he assured a balanced approach with relief measures in tow. A fall in inflation, a drop in the interest rate and lowering petroleum prices may have been a shot in the arm, but deeper economic vulnerabilities have been skirted. Further, the increased tax burden on the salaried class is likely to exacerbate frustrations among the populace. The PM also boldly pledged to shutter loss-making government departments and tackle corruption in notorious entities, but given the similar hollow promises of the past, the assertion merits suspicion. Structural reforms and privatisation were touted as essential to reclaiming funds and stimulating economic activity, yet recent efforts have faced obstacles like political resistance and transparency concerns. The PM’s claim of foreign investment from the Middle East and China – in fact, just commitments thus far – as milestones on the path to economic recovery is also a standard refrain. The effectiveness of these initiatives in the prevailing scenario remains uncertain. While the ultimate objective is to achieve stability, the practical way forward is in significantly reducing government expenditure and patching up leaking holes.

Promises of reform, austerity measures and investment have been heard countless times before, but without any follow-up. Amid economic distress, the public’s demand for real, tangible change grows louder, and the tolerance for familiar rhetoric diminishes. Only time will tell if this latest round of promises will break the cycle and bring about the long-awaited prosperity.


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