By Kiran Bokhari
(Pak Destiny) As Pakistan’s relations with the United States further strained after Donald Trump’s hostile remarks, opposition PML-Q’s senior leader Moonis Elahi feels Pakistan can only grow out of foreign clutches if it reduces its reliance on foreign loans.
He believes if indigenous resources are properly harnessed Pakistan can emerge stronger and independent ‘free of any foreign slavery’. Blaming the N-League responsible for trapping Pakistan in huge foreign debts, Moonis said time has come to rid of foreign dependence to achieve the real independence.
Donald Trump on Monday accused Pakistan of giving Washington “nothing but lies and deceit. Islamabad thinks of US leaders as fools. Washington had foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years”, but Pakistan had in return given “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help”.
Moonis, who is a PML-Q parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly, said: “Dependence, dependence and dependence on foreign loans and aid has led Pakistan into trap and the Sharif brothers have a great role in it”.
“Pakistan can turn into one of the developed nations of the world if only its abundant natural and human resources were properly harnessed. The emergent need of maximising the country’s agriculture growth has a potential to minimise poverty and reduce reliance on foreign loans and pittances,” Moonis said.
Pinpointing drastic foreign loan policy of the PML-N government, Moonis further said: “PML-N government obtained a record high $10.1 billion in foreign loans during 2016-17 apparently to repay old debt and support foreign exchange reserves.”
About 37% or $3.9 billion of the total external borrowing came from China alone -Islamabad. This includes $2.3 billion in commercial loans and another $1.6 billion under the bilateral economic assistance.
The $10.1-bn loans that include a record breaking $4.4bn on short-term foreign commercial loans as well were obtained during fiscal year 2016-17 that ended on June 30. “This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that any government has taken over $10 billion as fresh foreign loans in a single year. An alarming factor is the N-League’s growing reliance on short-term foreign commercial borrowings,” Moonis laments.
Since the PML-N government came into power, the country’s reliance on non-conventional borrowings has rapidly grown. By including $1 billion Sukuk bonds borrowing, the total non-conventional borrowing in the last fiscal year was equal to 52.5% of the total external loans.
One of the main reasons behind the growing reliance on foreign lenders is the government’s inability to enhance exports that have been constantly declining since the PML-N government came into power. In the last fiscal year, the exports stood at only $20.44 billion, which were just 6.7% of the total size of the economy. However, the foreign direct investment slightly picked to $2.4 billion in the last fiscal year but it was still significantly below the government’s estimates.
During the fiscal year 2016-17 -the current account deficit had widened to $12.1 billion or 4 per cent of the GDP, according to the State Bank.
Moonis Elahi has suggested that all stakeholders should sit together and find a way out to rid of foreign loans and adopt a policy hugely relying on its indigenous resources. – Pak Destiny