Quite what the mandarins of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made of the latest piece of tragi-comedy to emerge from the finance ministry we are unlikely to ever know. We may surmise that once they had readjusted their reading spectacles and got up from the office floor whence they had tumbled in surprise they find that yes, the Pakistan finance ministry really was admitting to a typographical error. And no, the growth rate was not the 4.1 per cent as reported but an altogether more realistic 3.3 per cent — which was what the IMF had originally projected. One might wonder if the proof-reading of important financial policy documents has been outsourced to a warren of dyslexic rabbits such is the scale of this particular typo.
The finance ministry hurried to cover itself with the fig-leaf of a handout issued on July 12, which spoke of an ‘inadvertent oversight’. The wolves were quickly on the case and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has announced plans to move a privilege motion against the government ‘for concealing facts from Parliament’. This is something of a stretch and it is all likely to be more cock-up than conspiracy, and there is even the possibility that this really was a typographical error, and the bunnies in the subediting department were distracted by a passing wagon load of carrots and missed it completely. Levity aside, the government had made something of a fool of itself on the doorstep of one of our primary lenders, who will add this episode to their institutional memory of their dealings with Pakistan. This is something the country, in fact any country, can hardly afford, it being yet another misstep that harms the credibility of the country. In actuality, responsibility for the ‘typo’ appears to rest with some very senior officials in the finance ministry. Their poor proof-reading has led to criticism and ridicule. Little real harm is done, but a discreet demotion is called for at the very least.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2014.
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