One single day of meditation in any deep jungle teaches us two things; firstly, how everything is so interdependent and secondly, survival of the fittest so meticulously measured by designated performance. There, everything streamlined like a symphony in action, because butterflies are not chasing hawks or rabbits attacking tigers. Jungles have balance, saving energy, resources and constant recycling for sustainability. Over there, every creature is a unique specimen with a designated superior performance, delivered in grace and absolute consistency. On the other hand, over here, humankind performance ended up with far more complicated expectancies. Today, measured in economic terms our performances have landed us in a jungle of our own reckoning. Here, our imbalanced survival of the fittest now demonstrated, as if, anacondas trying to swallow elephants or skunks pretending to be peacocks.
Future of pandemic recovery depends on finding our measurable performances at each step of the way, every layer and at every hierarchy of the organization; nation-by-nation, from headquarters of national leaderships, all the way down at every large and small economic development activity and even at heart of every single public and private sector enterprise. Why not, when technologies allow such measurement and pandemic times demand such excellence. During recent decades, humankind chase went disharmonious, productivity, performance and profitability overshadowed by illusions. Natural instinct went astray. Jungle economics sprawled. Resets, realignments and re-thinking are the limited mandatory options.
Why are the old business models crumbling?
Absence of Organizational Hierarchies; the organizational structures designed to tame Mammoth Corporation as a living organism. This invisible hierarchy of control and command existed as an extremely powerful and institutionalized body but now chipping away, often the soul of the corporation missing, power and control now distributed via technology to granular levels, where intermingled cross-messaging with odd meanings destroys communication. Single command when down streamed arrives as shattered mix-media babble adding only confusion. When command and control are broken, socio-political interference constantly shifts goals and targets, management shifts to schemes. Majority of the workforce of major corporations in almost any country cannot define their own corporate objectives, purpose and goals. This has now affected the soul of the enterprise; every enterprise must declare grassroots prosperity and sustainability as its prime mission over just money making schemes or primarily serving shareholders equities at any cost to the common goods.
Absence of Image Hierarchies; the sophisticated image positioning for the mind of global populace, the name identity in addition to logo branding creating layers of direct and indirect visible and invisible messaging to form a impenetrate able pyramid of image power, now mostly fragmented and lost in social media. Large and super-large corporate agendas are lost is disconnect corporate communications and crushed in rapid fire across shifting sands and lack of image hierarchy strips advancements. This has now affected balance sheets as brand value of the enterprises dropped and customer acquisition costs skyrocketed.
Absence of Concrete Hierarchies: like highly expensive real estate towering structure and fancy institutionalized decorum to create image supremacy as impressive fortresses to demonstrate power and glory of the mother ship enterprise. The entire layouts synchronized and branded across nations or the world to present a unified message, lost in remote-working culture and during pandemic recovery now lessons on the new force of ultimate transition. Pandemic has now forced cemented structures competing with cyber-presence at much faster speed, creating fluidity of operations to control the dual models. This has now affected the business workings and forced enterprises to rethink the entire model to survive.
Key Adjustments: ‘Remote working culture’ will eliminate the centrality of office towers and downtown status. Decentralization and ‘remote management’ will survive with only very ‘different’ skills, dramatically different from “dress-up for decorum”, “demonstrate power and glory with mounted frames” all transformed to supreme execution and mental capacity to demonstrate entrepreneurialism, with tolerance, diversity and global-age thinking. More than 50% of the work force may never return to work and remain remote, creating downtown bust and crashing down super expensive high office towers to almost cheap or free spaces.
Key Solutions: Asia alone is adding some 500 million new entrepreneurs. What does this mean? No other experiment of human endeavor was as successful as America, where some 100,000 entrepreneurs carved out the entrepreneurial supremacy of the United States spanning over a century. What new option does this bring to the USA? Today, expertise on national mobilization of entrepreneurialism teaches new thinking of setting up “micro-manufacturing” for “micro-exports” as an economic revolution of its own kind. Despite some 500 million SME in the world, a billion new big and small, young and old entrepreneurs on the march, economic leaderships are missing some great opportunities to table tactical combative blueprints to advance the challenges of local grassroots prosperity. Big business in any nation is big, but small business in any nation is many times bigger. If leaderships of the already mandated agencies, like the associations, chambers and export-promotion agencies of the country are in some harmony to face the truth and deal with the realities of tomorrow, major shifts on the horizon.
New laws of the Jungle;
Allow SME the first $5-10 million revenue in exports, tax-free to create jobs and bring foreign exchange. Allow SME free access to all dormant Intellectual Property, Patents, and Academic Experts on voucher programs. Allow SME free full time MBA as 6-12 months interns so MBA graduates can acquire some entrepreneurialism. Allow Million qualified entrepreneurs to park within a nation for 5-10 years under a special tax-free visa. Allow national mobilization of entrepreneurialism protocols mandated to engage trade and exports bodies. Allow national scoring of entrepreneurialism to measure, differentiate talents, and separate pretenders. (Expothon is tabling bold agenda on such topics and starting high level series of global virtual events starting in early 2021)
Why is leadership so fearful of bold open debates? There is a visible lack of special entrepreneurial mobilizations and execution skills, over dependence on bureaucratic lip-singing mantras blaming others only adding confusion. There is critical lack of content and advanced level expertise on high-class global virtual events and the right message to bring all parties on the same page. There is a serious lack of realization that such drastic thinking and deployments are often not new funding dependent rather execution hungry and mobilization starved.
Although this is not an easy task; smart nations are awakening to such bold notions and entrepreneurial driven agencies mandated to foster local economies are using virtual events to rise up with global rhythm and rich contents. For fears of avoiding dramatic changes, bureaucracies of most nations will try to bandage the old broken systems.
Bold and fearless leadership will embrace the new thinking and prove survival of the fittest. The rest is easy.
The High Percentage of Informal Employment in Indonesia: Causes and Implications
In most developing countries, the informal economy accounts for a large portion of the national economy and it often has a negative connotation because of inferior working conditions, low-productivity firms, and disrespect for the rule of law. The firms and workers as well as their output and production activities that are unregistered and do not pay taxes account for a significant and growing share of total economic activity. In Indonesia, BPS-Statistics Indonesia (BPS-Statistic Indonesia, 2022) records that the informal sector reaches 59.31% with more informal economy workers in rural areas. It captures three provinces including Papua (84,11%), West Sulawesi (77,25%), and West Nusa Tenggara (75,36%), with the highest percentage. The informal sector – where most MSMEs operate – employs more than 61 percent of Indonesia’s total workforce (The World Bank, 2010). From a government or formal perspective, the large participation in the informal sector becomes an issue that must be resolved because restricts the government’s ability to provide support for public goods and services (tax issue) and hinders economic growth.
In addition, policy-makers assume that their status (as companies and informal workers) would put them at a disadvantage relative to formal firms because they may not be able to legally obtain credit from formal financial sources, access government programs or facilities, or export products. The fact that is not surprising anymore is, even though actors in the informal sector know those losses mentioned by the government, most of them remain in their position. This phenomenon is interesting to examine because it has a lot to do with economic growth, social welfare, human capital, institutional issue, to development in various sectors. Therefore, this paper will analyze why the percentage of informal employment remains high in Indonesia despite many efforts by institutions and state agencies.
The Informal Sector: Exclusion & Exit Theory
Informal employment is a phenomenon in which firms and workers are unregistered with social security administrations, meaning their work activity and income are outside the tax control of the state and of the legal provisions in labor matters – most of them are small firms. Some literature analyzes the reasons firms or workers choose to remain in the informal sector on the one hand and the reasons other companies register their firms (and workers) and pay taxes. Perry et al. (2007) highlight informality through two lenses, exclusion & rational exit. The exclusion theory argues that the informal sector exists because workers could not find jobs in the formal sector, more precisely they are excluded from critical state benefits or modern economic circuits. Those exclusions include segmentation in the labor market, burdensome entry regulations that prohibit small firms shift to formality and growth, and informality as a defensive measure toward excessive tax and regulatory burdens. Therefore, the rational exit theory states that the net benefits of joining the formal sector are negative. Firms and workers choose to engage with formal institutions based on cost-benefit analysis, depending on their assessment of the net benefits associated with formality and the state’s enforcement effort and capability. This view suggests that high informality results from a massive choice to leave formal institutions by firms and individuals. It implies societal demand on the quality of the state’s service provision and enforcement capability.
They also argue that formality increases rapidly with firm size and productivity. So, formality can be seen as an input in the production process that is not really needed by small firms. However, most micro firms remain too small to benefit sufficiently from formality to overcome their various costs (a survey of informal Mexican micro firms). Other reasons are the high costs and time required to register or the high costs of operating as a registered business. In their research, the degree of formality increases as the firm grows larger and their demand for formalization increases, as does the probability of detection by authorities. Firms choosing to register do have better performance or, the firms that started operations being registered exhibit higher levels (on average) of labor productivity than their equivalent unregistered peers (survey in Latin America). However, there is evidence that, in some cases, informality reflects defensive evasion of possibly excessive regulation. In short, firms not only consider the cost and benefit of formality but their environment that does not demonstrate demand for its expected benefits also influences their decision. For the last, even if the government reduced registration costs, it would not lead to formalization. In other cases, such as unskilled workers – with lower formal wages, they may find that paying social protection and expected returns from a formal job do not exceed their consumption or greater flexibility and income they can get as informal workers. Especially when they have social protection alternatives from private or noncontributory programs (Perry et al., 2007). However, informality is a multidimensional phenomenon in which exclusion and exit mechanisms depend on each country based on its institutions, historical background, and legal frameworks.
The analyses highlight the characteristics of informal workers, their motivations, and their preference for the benefits and non-monetary characteristics of jobs such as flexibility, autonomy, stability, and mobility. Most of these informal workers seem to choose their jobs according to their individual needs, particularly their desire for flexibility and autonomy, and their abilities (comparative advantage). Either independent workers (firm owner and self-employment) or informal salaried workers are related to the exclusion and exit model. Most independent workers choose their jobs voluntarily, exit the formal social protection system, and underline the non-monetary of self-employment. In contrast, most informal salaried workers are excluded from more desirable jobs, either as formal workers or self-employed. They also choose not to contribute to social security and health insurance plans (exit) mainly because of low incomes and their employer’s decision not to offer benefits. Based on Perry’s research in Latin America, most of the self-employed do not appear to be excluded from the formal sector but they choose to exit (rationally, cost-benefit) of formality. They considered their minimal human capital, access to other assets, and low aggregate productivity in the economy. Informal employment then becomes a better option than suitable jobs in formal ones.
The dualism of the Informal Sector
Furthermore, Rizki, Suryadarma, & Suryahadi (2020) used dual economic theory in their research on informal workers in Indonesia in the 1996-2014 period. The dual economy theory argues that the informal and formal sectors co-exist, and are fundamentally different. They produce different products, with different labor, capital, and technological inputs that automatically have different productivity levels, and also pay different levels of wages and serve different consumers. This theory assumes that changes in registration costs will have no impact on the size of the informal sector in the dual economy model. Only economic growth could solve this issue because it will reduce the size of the informal sector while encouraging the formation and expansion of formal firms (Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2014).
Based on Rizki et al. research, Indonesia with its large informal sector in which 57 percent of the 125 million working population are informal workers (50% in the non-agriculture sectors since 2000), the transition from informal to formal jobs is very gradual and can be rapidly overturned by an economic crisis. Although, indeed, between 1996 and 2014, they found evidence that the informal sector seemed to shrink along with economic growth, however, it took a very long time. The results from the first job trend examination show individuals whose first job was as a low-tier informal (LTI) worker, almost half remained in that position through the next 8 to 19 years, and another 45 percent became low-tier formal (LTF) workers for at least one year. Their findings emphasize that the dual economy is divided between low-tier and high-tier employment, rather than informal and formal employment. Even if they shift, they are still at a low-level of employment. However, they have a relatively good chance of switching to LTF work because of the earnings premium that LTI could gain is large and statistically significant (42%). Hence, the research recommends, instead of creating policies that try to encourage low-level informal sector workers to become high-tier informal sector workers – as most policymakers in developing countries desire, the government should be advised to create jobs, even if low-tier ones, that LTI can apply for.
Another research from William, Horodnic, & Windebank (2017) on the dual informal labor market with a case study in the European Union. They see the informal economy both as the ‘exclusion’ and ‘out’, and as internal dualism of it. The evaluation was carried out on a dual informal labor market composed of an exit-driven ‘upper tier’ and exclusion-driven ‘lower tier’ of informal workers. Their analysis resulted in the finding that 24% of participants did so for pure exclusion reasons, 45% for pure exit reasons, and 31% for a mixture of both exclusion and exit rationales. So, it is not purely for exit or exclusion rationales, instead, there is an internal dualism of the informal sector, with some involved in the informal sector being exit, others exclusion, and yet others driven by a mixture of both motives. However, the weight given to exit and exclusion is not uniform across the European Union. Exclusion is more common in Southern Europe and East-Central Europe but less in Nordic nations and Western Europe. Based on their analysis, the exclusion-driven ‘lower tier’ was identified as more likely to be populated by the unemployed and those living in East-Central Europe, and the exit-driven ‘upper tier’ by those with fewer financial difficulties and who live in the Nordic countries. In sum, the informal sector is not purely a necessity-driven realm for excluded populations or purely a result of a desire to exit a burdensome and over-regulated formal sector, it is a mixture of both exclusion and exit rationales.
In addition to examining the phenomenon of the high percentage of informal employment in developing countries through the perspective of economic literature, the author will also look at it from an institutional perspective. Williams & Harodnic (2015), through the lens of institutional theory, reveal that there is a strong relationship between tax morale and participation in the informal economy. The lower the level of tax morale, the higher the level of participation in the informal economy. They mention that not only formal institutions (codified laws & regulations) – government morality – define institutional strength (non-compliance; enforcement) but also informal institutions (societal morality) such as norms, values, and principles. So, in the case of the informal economy, they argue that there is an asymmetry between government morality and societal morality, thereby resulting in a large percentage of the informal economy. The finding (case: the UK population) is people who participate in the informal economy have significantly lower tax morale than those in formal ones.
Indonesia’s Informal Employment
Based on the literature reviews and theories above, the author observes that in the Indonesian case, the exclusion theory is not really relevant (directly) as a reason for the high percentage of the informal sector, especially since the period 2018-after the pandemic COVID-19 until now. During that period, the government amended and passed regulations that ease and facilitate access for MSMEs and workers to enter the formal economy. For instance, the central government has also reduced registration fees (Directorate General of Intellectual Property, Trademark) and business taxes (1% to 0.5%) (Directorate General of Taxes) which have been implemented since 2018, but participation in the informal economy is still large. There are still many informal economy actors who are reluctant to transform into the formal sector. They still assume that the procedure for formalizing (registration) their business is too complicated – and expensive, although the government has reduced and simplified registration. Even the registration of the Taxpayer Identification Number (Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak/NPWP) – as a requirement for access to capital loans at the Bank, paying taxes, and reporting the Annual Tax Return (Surat Pemberitahuan Tahunan/SPT) can be done at the tax office or through the online site at pajak.go.id which incidentally makes it easier for the community (theoretically). On the other hand, the formation of the Job Creation Law No. 11/2020 (widely known as the “Omnibus Law”) should also support informal workers and MSMEs to shift, but this is not the case.
The high informal sector in Indonesia is more relevant viewed through a rational exit lens in which MSMEs (and workers) choose to be informal because the costs of formality are greater than its benefits. They assume that formalizing their enterprises (mostly small one) are costly and not worth the benefits they get. They have to pay business taxes (Article 2 (5) Law No. 36/2008 on Income Tax; Government Regulation (PP) No. 23/2018 on Income Tax) and have to deal with regulations related to employment (the Job Creation Law No. 11/2020), product certification, and they have to pay business taxes (Article 2 (5) Law No. 36/2008 on Income Tax; Government Regulation (PP) No. 23/2018 on Income Tax) and have to deal with regulations related to employment (the Job Creation Law No. 11/2020) and product certification, and procedures they find complicated and time-consuming to perform. Most of the MSMEs in Indonesia are small – and mostly run by the lower middle class. Lower middle-class informal actors prefer to remain in the informal sector because they enjoy benefits such as not having to pay taxes – but enjoy tax advantages, wage rates that are not limited by labor regulations, not spending time with registration and administration processes that they consider complicated, and other advantages of not following the rules.
So, the author sees this as more of a human capital and societal morality issue. Small businesses and workers in the informal sector are constrained to meet standards in the formal sector due to their low capacities, such as inadequate skills, low education, and lack of knowledge about technology-digitization, which indeed affects their mentality and performance (productivity, efficiency, marketing, management). This fact is in line with the dual economy theory of informality. Furthermore, from an institutional perspective, the informal sector is a matter of enforcement and societal resistance which requires changing the values and beliefs of the population by trying to harmonize regulations and soft policies, so that trust, self-regulation, and high commitment can grow. Hence, in its implementation, the government must have clear indicators for MSME development. MSME development programs must be synergized so that they do not run separately in each ministry/institution. It is necessary to map and differentiate in handling problems based on the size of MSMEs, worker skills, and class so that empowerment is carried out on target. In conclusion, besides the significance of the institution, meaningful enforcement effort and capacity from above and societal cooperation from below, are very important indicators to create a strong institution. Lack of enforcement capacity relative to societal resistance becomes one of the causes of the high percentage of the Indonesian informal economy. It is also important to pay attention to increasing skills in line with the needs of the labor market. It seems that what is important is no longer whether they become informal (which always has a negative connotation) or formal (good one), but how to empower those at the middle and lower levels so that their capacity and morale support economic growth and prosperity economically and socially.
CBDC vs Cryptocurrency: The Future of Global Financial Order
In the rapidly evolving digital era, the global financial landscape is undergoing profound transformation. At the heart of the debate on the future of digital currency, two concepts dominate the discussion: Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and cryptocurrency. While both offer distinct visions for the future of global finance, there are strong indications that CBDCs hold greater potential to be adopted as a global standard.
A study by the Atlantic Council, a US-based think tank, reveals that 130 countries, representing 98% of the global economy, are currently exploring digital versions of their currencies. Nearly half of these are in advanced stages of development, testing, or launch. All G20 nations, except Argentina, are in these advanced stages. Eleven countries, including some in the Caribbean and Nigeria, have launched their CBDCs. Meanwhile, China has tested its CBDC with 260 million people across 200 different scenarios. However, despite the global push for CBDCs, countries like Nigeria have seen disappointing adoption, while Senegal and Ecuador have halted their developments. Here are some fundamental reasons why CBDCs hold more promise than Cryptocurrencies in setting global financial standards:
1. Authority and Regulation
One of the primary advantages of CBDCs is the oversight and regulation by central banks. With a central authority controlling its circulation and use, CBDCs offer a higher level of trust and security for users and other stakeholders. CBDCs, supervised by central banks, are deemed safer due to a centralized authority ensuring consistent policy and regulation application. The ability to track and monitor transactions to prevent illegal activities, value stability, advanced security infrastructure, legal protection, and monetary control by central banks enhance user trust and security. Moreover, with central bank backing, CBDCs have backup and recovery mechanisms ensuring the digital currency’s integrity and availability.
2. Stability and Sustainability
Cryptocurrencies often face high price volatility, hindering their acceptance as a stable medium of exchange. In contrast, CBDCs, backed by central banks, are expected to offer more consistent value stability. Cryptocurrency price volatility is often driven by speculation, low liquidity, news and regulatory responses, and market immaturity. The nascent crypto market, dominated by retail investors, tends to move based on emotions like fear or greed rather than fundamental analysis. On the other hand, CBDCs, regulated by central banks, are designed for stability, expected to provide more consistent value stability than decentralized cryptocurrencies.
3. Financial System Integration
CBDCs, issued and overseen by central banks, offer easier integration into existing financial infrastructure. With full backing from central banks and existing legal and regulatory frameworks, CBDCs can seamlessly integrate into traditional banking and financial systems, facilitating cross-border transactions and exchanges with traditional currencies. For instance, Swift, a financial messaging service provider, is focusing on CBDC interoperability. They’ve initiated beta testing with several central banks and over 30 financial institutions to ensure new digital currencies operate smoothly alongside current fiat currencies. This aim seeks to address potential global fragmentation in CBDC development.
In contrast, cryptocurrencies, with their decentralized nature, might face challenges integrating with existing financial infrastructure due to the absence of a central authority and regulatory challenges, as well as acceptance by financial institutions.
4. Global Acceptance
As an official currency issued by central banks, CBDCs have the potential for widespread acceptance among nations, becoming an integral part of the global financial order. CBDCs, being official currencies issued by central banks, enjoy the trust and credibility of a nation’s monetary authority, facilitating their acceptance among the public. For instance, China’s Digital Yuan, backed by the People’s Bank of China, has seen extensive domestic acceptance. Moreover, CBDCs are designed to integrate with existing payment systems, as seen with the Sand Dollar project in the Bahamas that enables transactions via smartphones. On an international level, CBDCs can facilitate cross-border monetary cooperation, with countries like ASEAN members considering the interoperability of their CBDCs to ease trade and investment.
5. Transparency and Accountability
The ability to track CBDC transactions provides governments with an effective tool to enhance financial oversight and tax compliance. The transparency offered by CBDCs facilitates the identification of potentially unreported transactions and the detection of suspicious transaction patterns related to money laundering or terrorist financing. Additionally, with real-time monitoring, governments can promptly detect and respond to illegal activities, such as fraud, ensuring the integrity and security of their financial systems remain intact.
6. Promoting Financial Inclusion
CBDCs can play a pivotal role in promoting financial inclusion, providing access to financial services for those previously marginalized from traditional banking systems. CBDCs hold immense potential to boost financial inclusion, especially for those marginalized from traditional banking systems. With easy access via mobile devices and low transaction costs, CBDCs make financial services more accessible, especially in rural or remote areas.
Furthermore, the ease of account opening and cross-border transactions at more efficient costs supports migrant workers and those previously challenged by conventional banking services. For example, the Sand Dollar project in the Bahamas has showcased how CBDCs can expand access to financial services across the islands, allowing residents on remote islands to transact using just a mobile phone. Such initiatives demonstrate how CBDCs can be a crucial tool in promoting financial inclusion globally.
7. Monetary Policy Control
With CBDCs, central banks have an additional tool to implement monetary policy, allowing for more timely and effective interventions in the face of economic crises. CBDCs grant central banks enhanced capabilities to implement monetary policies. With better liquidity control and the ability to apply negative interest rates, central banks can respond more quickly and accurately to economic condition shifts.
Moreover, CBDCs allow for faster monetary policy transmission, such as direct stimulus provision to public accounts, and provide access to real-time transaction data. This capability is crucial as it allows for quicker responses to potential crises, maintaining economic and price stability. Additionally, swift and accurate actions from central banks in crisis situations can boost public trust in financial institutions and the government. Thus, CBDCs can be a vital tool in a central bank’s monetary policy toolkit, reinforcing their role in safeguarding a nation’s economic well-being.
While cryptocurrencies offer benefits like decentralization and privacy, the lack of consistent regulation and high volatility make them less ideal as a global financial standard. On the other hand, CBDCs, with the backing and regulation of central banks, promise a new era in a more stable, transparent, and inclusive global financial landscape.
In the context of modern diplomacy, the acceptance of CBDCs as a global standard can facilitate cross-border economic cooperation, strengthen bilateral and multilateral relationships, and advance sustainable development agendas. As a step towards a more integrated and harmonious future, CBDCs might be the key to transforming the global financial order.
IMF Conditions vs. Pakistan’s Economic Future
The solution to an ever-worsening economic mess is becoming more and more crucial to the tenuous stability of Pakistan. One of the most egregious spikes in inflationary pressure in history is being experienced by the country. Only war-torn Afghanistan’s economic situation is comparable to the current state of affairs, where Gross Domestic Product (GDP), per capita income, and GDP growth rates are at historic lows in comparison to their regional counterparts. Pakistan’s economic mess is caused by a complicated convergence of structural and intrinsic fault lines. The country is currently mired in the quagmire of a third consecutive year of weak GDP growth, ensnared in the grip of a protracted recession. The humiliating classification of Pakistan as a UN debt-distressed entity, which places it in the unenviable third place among a cohort of 40 nations similarly affected, exacerbates its financial predicament. Unavoidably, the nation’s fiscal allocation is set aside in a deplorable amount to pay off its onerous interest debt.
Currently, for the second half of September, the interim government has unrelentingly imposed record-high fuel prices, making the situation even worse for a populace already suffering from rife inflation. The newly elected caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakkar, was constrained by the International Monetary Fund’s strict conditions attached to the recently sanctioned $3 billion loan, and had no choice but to pass along the rising global oil prices to struggling Pakistani consumers in order to meet the lender’s short-term fiscal goals. This inflation index is ominously overshadowed by the effects of these price increases, both immediate and long-term. The central bank might be forced to raise its crucial policy rate in the following month if inflation turns out to be higher than expected.
As Pakistan finds itself ensnared in the vice grip of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) regime, it is an unspoken axiom of the business world that is strictly upheld. Pakistan, like many of its developing counterparts, teeters precariously on the edge of a debt quagmire, where the toll exacted manifests as spiraling inflation, a swift depreciation of the national currency, a shrinking production landscape, and the gradual erosion of social welfare disbursements, all at the dictate of international financial institutions. Whereas, according to United Nations report, Pakistan’s rapidly growing population will number 330 million people by 2050. While it might be tempting to believe that Pakistan’s troubles would stay within its borders, history warns against this. Currently, Pakistan is dealing with unemployment and inflation rates that are noticeably higher than those of many of its neighbors. A troubling picture of Pakistan’s development is painted by the Human Development Index (HDI), which places the country in the dismal 161st place out of 185 countries in 2022. The index measures a country’s progress across dimensions of health, education, and living standards. Pakistan essentially struggles with some of the worst human development in the world, ranking 25th overall.
Though, this bleak scenario has a complex history that includes poor economic governance, widespread corruption, and disproportionate funding for the defense industry, which feeds fiscal imbalances. Fostering investments in the education and professional expertise of the young cohort emerges as an imperative linchpin for generating prospects of a more sustainable economic trajectory in a demographic where half the population is still under the age of 22. Likewise, the prolonged political and economic unrest in Pakistan foreshadows a looming threat for the Indo-Pacific region. Particularly in its interactions with India and its function as China’s regional proxy, the nation’s governance fragility and impending fiscal insolvency portend ominous implications.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan may find itself entangled in a situation worse than Sri Lanka’s recent economic and political cataclysm, which was calmed by India’s quick emergency aid, giving Sri Lanka the flexibility to renegotiate its financial commitments with international creditors. But a collapse in Pakistan would have far-reaching effects throughout the region. The military brass may be tempted to play the India card, as has happened in the annals of history, if there is the possibility of widespread civil unrest or schisms within the military echelons. It would become a dangerous gambit to fabricate a crisis in Kashmir or plan an incursion by extremists across the border, certain that India would be forced to act.
Lastly, there is a discernible glimmer of hope from the sharp top of this cliff. A genuine and unadulterated effort to address these dire fiscal issues, free from the harmful influences of geopolitical maneuvering, may be sparked by the economy’s abrupt descent into turmoil. The nation is still struggling to deal with the political system’s inherent flaws, so the long-term outlook is far from encouraging. A fundamental departure from the traditional vertical framework of governance, exemplified by a centralized state or government, is urgently needed in Pakistan. A paradigm shifts toward the idea of network governance, in which a horizontal web of organizations operates with individual autonomy and simultaneously contributes to the overall economic tapestry, is imperative.
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