PAKISTAN is going through a serious financial crunch and this is time to define our priorities and be disciplined enough to follow them with sincerity and due intent. The crisis is grave enough to make us think long-term.
The public transport system is a necessity for every big and small city. While for the individual, it will be an inexpensive and convenient way to commute, for the country it would mean the world because it will reduce the import bill related to petroleum products substantially.
Currently, every individual has to use a motorcycle or car for commute, adding to the burden at both indi-vidual and collective levels. Efficient public transport will surely replace a number of vehicles that are seen on the roads today.
The private sector should also be encouraged and facilitated to share the government responsibility in this regard. On the social side, we should move away from the habit of using one’s own vehicle as a status symbol.
The problems in the energy sector are numerous and crippling. Adopting renewable energy is the need of the day. The government may support local manufacturing of solar panels and let the public switch to solar energy. It will lessen the government burden in terms of an ever-increasing demand of electricity, infrastructure and a lot more.
Government-owned solar companies can facilitate the installation and maintenance of solar systems. Besides, industry-academia collaboration may produce meaningful results with respect to the manufacturing of solar panels and other equipment locally.
As known to all, we need to reduce imports and increase exports to apply some kind of brakes to the national economy’s journey downhill.
Putting a ban on letters of credit (LCs) may not serve the purpose as the local industry needs imported items in addition to locally available raw material in order to manufacture essential products and to retain their employees.
They import raw material only due to non-availability or quality issues. In a few cases, the imported items are preferred as they are more cost-effective compared to the local ones. The government may conduct a survey and new industries could be launched with the help of local and foreign investors to meet the demand of local manufacturers who are importing items due to any of the above reasons.
The availability of good quality raw material locally at competitive rates would be a win-win situation for all. It would be a step towards reducing the unemployment rate in the country, too.
Trustworthiness and impeccable integrity are characteristics of an exemplary nation. Any amount of investment not supported by ethical values will always raise question marks on the credibility front.
As Pakistanis, it is time we learned that honesty is not the best policy; it is the only policy. We all are responsible for playing our part in handing over a better Pakistan to our generations to come.
Muhammad Adnan Shahid
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2023