Merry-go-round

Four finance ministers, five federal finance secretaries, and three Governors of the central bank later, the government still doesn’t have its act together. The major financial reshuffle that took place the day before is yet another reminder of that. True, individuals shouldn’t matter in matters of policy but such a turnover is a little too rapid for comfort; individuals are the ones who will, after all, design the said policies. Moreover, the issue of institutional memory is one not to be taken lightly, newer officials having a flatter learning curve. To be fair, though, the learning curve is going to be steep in the case of the new finance secretary, who is assuming this charge for the third time on this government’s watch!

The top financial mandarins have been changed, according to reports, over an impasse over the reformed general sales tax, in particular, the tax on services. The bureaucracy has been unable to present an acceptable enough policy draft for the services tax so it could eventually move towards a consensus by the provinces. If that indeed is the case, however, there is a double standard at work here. The political government itself has also been unable to evolve a consensus even with its own allies over the RGST. How about some tough love for itself?

Matters financial were never said to be the PPP’s strong point. Though that is perhaps correct, the commonly held implication that the PML(N) has its finances figured out is not. The League will take ill-thought out, populist and nearsighted decisions. The only difference being that it will take said bad decisions quickly and will have some confident pointman doing the explaining to the media and business community. Though bad decisions are the last thing the economy needs right now, perhaps the single commissar exuding confidence might not be a bad idea for the PPP to emulate. In the case of the RGST, for instance, an otherwise insanely populist media is against a measure which will, eventually prevent the big fish (not the average Joe) from tax fraud. It’s high time the government needs to get both its spin and policy right – PT