Not a minute to lose

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The IMF’s decision to release the second tranche of $700 million may have come as a much-needed breathing space to the country as it struggles to keep up its dwindling foreign exchange reserves but the optimistic outlook has not arrived without a set of further instructions.
As the Fund revises the GDP growth projections and warns about the inflation rate, its appreciation of the attractive dollar bonds means little to the public at large. All these celebrations about the gloomy days behind us would mean nothing for the inflation-stricken masses who have been enduring the brunt of back-breaking prices and a stringent austerity programme.
Pakistan is being reminded to stay true to promises and continues the process of broad-based fiscal reforms to improve public financial management. Just as worrying is the loss of patience of our allies who do not wish to extend the lifelines our way.
The pessimist outlook does not, in any way, wish to make light of the gains achieved by the caretaker cabinet. There’s no denying the authorities’s efforts to improve revenue collection, but lofty promises about federal spending restraints are yet to be achieved.
Now that a level ground has been provided, all eyes are perched upon whichever elected government manages to rise to the top after February 8 and the homework it must have done beforehand. For starters, the usual honeymoon phase has been carved out of the picture and therefore, no bloated governments can allow unproductive expenditures to run wild to make some goodwill.
Instead of perpetuating a system that protects the one-percenters at the expense of the rest of the country, powerful rentiers would have to chip in their share of the burden. Only a determined player who wishes to spell the proverbial end to the dark, dreary tunnel would take a determined stand against the complacency of the years gone by and dare to cast the spell. That the country and its finances are not in a forgiving mood should be clear to all.