Rs1,000,000,000,000 - Dr Farrukh Saleem - Sunday, May 01, 2011

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Here’s a paragraph from last week: “Rs1,000,000,000,000 is the difference between what the Government of Pakistan (GOP) earns and what it spends. In effect, GOP looses Rs300 crore a day, every single day. That amounts to loosing Rs11 crore per hour or Rs20 lakh per minute for every single minute of the entire year. GOP would have lost Rs60 lakh by the time you will finish reading this brief commentary.”

GOP is now less of a government and more of a black hole. Last week, Munawar Mir sent me an email from Vancouver, Canada. The email reads: “When nature creates a black hole, nothing can come out of it because its density and gravity increases to infinity while its size shrinks to zero. Pakistan’s one trillion rupee black hole created by the GOP has no chance of shrinking because it is just like cosmic drain which is going to suck jobs, dreams, aspirations and wishes of the Pakistani public.”

Last week, Dr Ashfaque Khan, one of my favourite economist (economists are hard to love), disclosed how our economic wizards make budgets. The President of Pakistan says out loud that the presidency cannot survive without a Rs3.5 crore injection a month, every month of the year. The Prime Minister of Pakistan sends out a high priority communiqué that the PM Secretariat cannot survive without devouring Rs50 crore a year.

Then there’s an army of ministers and their ministries. The cabinet secretariat gobbles up Rs100 crore a month. Then there are ‘developmental funds’ – nay political bribes – to be paid to all of our honourable senators, MNAs and MPAs. At 100 senators, 342 MNAs and 728 MPAs that’s a cool Rs300 crore a month down the drain every month of the year. Imagine; lawmakers doing gutters. Then there are at least half a dozen black holes within the real black hole; Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Electric Power Company, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Utility Stores Corporation. Among them they loose at least Rs250 billion a year or Rs70 crore a day, every day of the year.

Then there are others: Tomato Paste Plant, Roti Corporation of Pakistan, Pakistan Stone Development Company, Pakistan Hunting and Sporting Arms Development Company, National Institute of Oceanography, Pakistan Gems & Jewellery Development Company, Technology Commercialisation Corporation of Pakistan, National Industrial Parks Development & Management Company, Technology Up-Gradation and Skill Development Company, National Productivity Organisation, Centre for Applied & Molecular Biology, Council for Work and Housing Research, National Institute of Electronics, Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Technology, Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority and Central Inspectorate of Mines.

Wait there are more: National Insurance Corporation, Heavy Electrical Complex, Machine Tool Factory, Services International, National Power Construction Company, National Fertilizers Corporation, State Engineering Corporation, National Construction Limited, Pakistan Steel Fabricating Company Limited, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, Ghee Corporation of Pakistan, Republic Motors, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, Pakistan Railways, State Cement Corporation of Pakistan, State Petroleum Refining & Petrochemicals Corporation, Trading Corporation of Pakistan, Cotton Export Corporation of Pakistan, Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan, Pakistan Industrial and Technical Training Centre and Pakistan Engineering Company.

From here onwards budget making is a piece of cake – add every ‘Demand for Grant’ from the president downwards, deduct the IMF-allowed budgetary deficit and surprise, surprise you have the final revenue figure. By the end of the next fiscal year, the president, the prime minister and everyone below them would end up overshooting their allocations by 10 percent to 20 percent. Surprise! Surprise! By the end of the next fiscal year GOP will give mother nature another Rs1,000,000,000,000 black hole. Talk about sovereignty and talk about Kerry-Lugar. Talk about public money, private greed.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:

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