According to newspaper reports, Asian Development Bank and the Pakistani government have finalized a three-year Country Partnership, Strategy and Operation Plan for 2018-21 under which the bank will provide$6 billion over the next three years to support infrastructure projects in Pakistan. The bank is already helping the country with annual lending of $1.5 billion for the development of transport facilities and enhancement of connectivity with various countries up to central and South East Asia regions. The bank also demanded the government introduce reforms in the public sector entities and energy sector, particularly in transmission and distribution network which actual mean the government should have to levy more taxes and duties on the general public to generate funds to pay back the loan. Toeing the line of the Punjab government, the KP government has also obtained a loan of $335 million for Peshawar Bus Rapid Transport Project in collaboration with other international lending agencies. A new era of loan economy is dawning in the country where not only the federal, but provincial governments are also signing deals with foreign donor agencies to get loans for development projects.
Pakistan is heading fast to become a client state of the international lending agencies which will be able to persuade the government to levy more taxes and duties on the general public to generate money. Irrational enforcement of taxes have already disfigured the tax system and people are shy of registering themselves as taxpayers. The donor agencies are not hesitant to extend credits to the developing nations in the name of sector reforms. The projects conceived with zeal and zest on the basis of heavy loans are left unattended when new governments take over. The loan amounts pile up with the passage of time and the nation is enmeshed in vicious circle of expensive borrowings. It is yet to be seen what exigency prompted the government to seek loan instead of taking steps to increase industrial production, enhance exports and earn foreign exchange. According to experts, the country needs at least seven percent growth rate per year not only to rid itself of the donor agencies, but also return the loans. Acceptance of new loans reveals the inherent weaknesses of the economy and so-called macroeconomic stability claimed by the government.
The government is running out of the options to save money and not a single voice is being raised to adopt austerity measures in any government department. The president house, prime minister’s house and governor and chief minister houses have annual allocations of billions of rupees. Until a sincere leadership takes over the charge of the country, the situation will continue to go from bad to worse.