Hoodwinking public opinion

The leadership of opposition political parties seems to have decided to mislead people on the spike in coronavirus cases, particularly, in the province of Sind and vague economic terminology of foreign debt relief, which is in fact deferring payment of expensive loans for one year and not debt waiver. Bulk of these loans had been acquired in the past two governments. How foreign loans were spent in those governments will come to lime lights when findings Debt Inquiry Commission are out. Addressing a press conference at Karachi alongside Sind Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked the Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign if he cannot work for the containment of coronavirus pandemic. The stance of PPP Chairman reflects his railing against the incumbent federal government to sprinkle their government in Sindh. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked for the details of foreign economic assistance for Covid-19 relief fund, an oblique reference to few million dollars announced by the US and the UK. The other day ANP Central President Asfandiyar Wali came out political hibernation and issued a flamboyant statement, warning the government against any attempt of bringing changes in the 18th Amendment and slashing financial allocations to provinces that are released under 7th NFC Award. He told party workers to be prepared for protest if the settled matters are disturbed. The chronology of foreign debt tells that its premature retirement and successful negotiations leading to waiver of appreciable component of it reduced it to $23 billion during 2001-7. During those seven years economy was steered out of recession, turned it around, and huge losses making public sector enterprise, Pakistan Steel Mill (PSM) started earning Rs.380 million profit. In 2008-13, the economy again went into recession because of bad governance and fiscal indiscipline. PSM once again started accruing losses of Rs. 60 billion annually, leading to its closure in 2017. The public sector enterprises devour Rs.400 billion annually because of political appointments made therein during PPP government. Foreign debt liability rose to $45 billion by May 2013 and PML-N government pushed it up to the unsustainable level of $85 billion till May 2018. Over the past 12 years, debt servicing has become the top head of expenditure in annual budget allocations. Rs.1.095 trillion had to be allocated for the repayment of foreign debt and Rs.2.532 for domestic debt in budget of current fiscal year.