Pakistan is generally regarded as a cash-starved country in the international media, but the fact of the matter is that neither the country nor its people are in such a condition. There are over 80 million people, more than the total population of Britain, Turkey, Germany, France, Iran and Turkey, who have nearly $30,000 per capital income. Overall on the economy side, scrips in the stocks market are being traded dozens of times more than their book values, showing a tremendous over investment and placing Pakistan in the list of emerging markets. Hundreds of billions of dollars from Pakistan are stashed in Swiss banks and elsewhere in the world which can be brought back to pay the country’s debts or invest in development projects. The real estate business is booming and is working as engine of growth in the country. There are 80 industries which are directly or indirectly associated with the construction sector. When construction sector grows, it pushes the local industries to work overtime to meet the overwhelm demands of their products.
The foreign investment has increased many fold in recent years and Chinese investment has considerably developed infrastructure of the country. The recent ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reveals the fact that anything can be done if there is a will to do in the best interest of the country. The money stashed in Switzerland or any other country can also be brought back if government has the will to do it. However, there is a dire need to remove the causes which force people to shift their money abroad. Pakistan has lot of potentials for investment, trade and industry, but ill-conceived policies, lack of planning and implementation and political inconsistencies are the main causes of underdevelopment of this country. There is a need to restore the trust of the people in the country that their money will be protected at all costs. Previously, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team had squeezed the business community to get more and more taxes. Enhancing taxes as the only option always backfires and people choose to take their money abroad.
The people of this country want to invest and pay taxes, but official machinery has the power to make or break any business entity. In corrupt society, giving unchecked authority to government officials is the root-cause of all troubles. This allows a portion of investment to go into the pockets of the black sheep in government departments. The prime minister has gone, but consistency of the economic policies must be ensured if the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz wants to win the next elections. The economy of the country must grow at a fast rate after Mr Sharif. After all, it is the party government.