The Youth Loan Scheme at a cursory glance looks very attractive. However, a closer look reveals that it will trap the youth in debt to be paid back in eight years, which is inappropriate as no genuine business can be so profitable to discharge all its financial liabilities within this stipulated period. This project appears to be remnant of the failed plans like establishing cottage industries and livestock farming in the 1980s. Other examples of similar failed or least not as useful schemes include yellow cab, laptop, sasti roti, and many more entitlement schemes, which have strengthened the vote bank of PML-N but added nothing to the country’s ailing economy.

The source of one billion rupees, allocated for this ambitious plan is not known. If the government borrows from banks to extend these loans, it will lose money on subsidising the interest eventually adding to massive debt for the government. If it prints money for this purpose, it will cause inflation and devalue rupee, again leading to problems for the common man. During the election campaign, Nawaz Sharif claimed that his party would bring in a team of highly professional economists who will rid the country of dependency on aid but on the contrary, the PML-N government is on one hand taking pride in borrowing from IMF and on the other hand launching programs that are likely to increase inflation and debt.

If this is the progress of a highly professional team, I wonder what would happen if PML-N had a less skilled team? I am no economist, but I do understand that borrowing from IMF or from people under ‘Mulk Sawaro’ guise is not the cure for our ailing economy. The solution is in curtailing massive government expenditures, broadening the tax net (it is shameful that we have about two million taxpayers in a country of 180 million), documenting the economy, pushing the industry to become more efficient and competitive, and giving relief to the ever shrinking middle class.

The PML-N has many prominent politicians and industrialists, including both the Mian brothers who have large industries all over the world and I am sure they are all generating profit. They should take the lead and set an example by paying taxes and paying back the loans on which they have either defaulted or are contesting cases in courts. How can a leadership motivate people to invest in a country and pay taxes when they themselves have all their investment abroad and do not pay any taxes? Also, how can they promote merit when most of party and government’s important positions are held by their family and friends? How can a leadership take the country out of economic crises when it takes pride in borrowing money from IMF and tries to buy youth out by dishing out loans?


Islamabad, December 10.