Karachi: Former Pakistan Finance Minister Miftah Ismail termed his country a “one-per cent republic” that offers no upward social mobility to an overwhelming majority of its citizens, Dawn reported.
Speaking at an awards ceremony organised by the Management Association of Pakistan (MAP), he said there’s “something very wrong” with Pakistan, Dawn reported.
“The 1 per cent elite controls this country,” said Ismail, who was a placeholder at the finance ministry for six months until Ishaq Dar’s recent return from exile.
Citing the example of US billionaires Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who came from nothing and yet built a fortune by dint of their talent, Ismail lamented that almost all rich Pakistanis are beneficiaries of generational wealth, Dawn reported.
Ismail didn’t take questions from the press and left after handing out awards and trophies to dozens of corporate entities that he’d laid into minutes ago for rent-seeking and enjoying state-sanctioned protection from competition.
“(The last government) distributed Rs 580 billion among the richest 1 per cent Pakistanis under the Temporary Economic Refinance Facility. The government itself is borrowing at 15 per cent, but the rich people got money at 1 per cent only,” he said.
The liquidity injection increased imports of machinery and widened the current account deficit because local business groups produced goods for domestic consumption only, he said.
Without taking names, he said a conglomerate requested his support for setting up a 500,000-tonne factory of polypropylene while he was the finance minister. They demanded a 20 per cent duty protection for 20 years because, in Ismail’s words, the corporation couldn’t compete against its Chinese counterparts, Dawn reported.
He also criticised the auto sector for its inward-looking approach that’s been draining foreign exchange on imports for decades without generating any dollar earnings through exports. He mocked the auto sector for finally exporting “carpets” used in vehicles to Egypt upon his insistence.