Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



A Simulation Analysis of the Debt Problem in Pakistan

The current debt situation in Pakistan and the resulting financial crisis require serious attempts to find a sustainable indigenous solution. As such it is essential to search ways and means to reduce dependence on external borrowing over medium to long run.1 External debt is usually created to sustain a growth rate of the economy, which is otherwise not feasible with the given state of domestic resources, technology, consumption propensity and economic management practices. However, the success of economic growth financed by external borrowing depends on two factors, namely the domestic saving rate and productivity. A country with lower saving rate needs to borrow more to finance a given rate of economic growth. In Pakistan the flow of external loans is likely to have adversely affected the compulsion for savings. For example, no serious attempts have been made to improve tax collection or to control non-development government expenditure unless forced by the donor agencies. The adverse effect of borrowing on savings has recently been observed in [Ali et al. (1997)]. The evidence also does not support the proposition that higher rate of economic growth results in higher saving rate [see Ali et al. (1997)]. The saving rate in the private sector of Pakistan has remained low because of low real interest rates and the lack of legitimate and safe investment opportunities. Furthermore the poor and middle-income classes have been burdened with high inflation tax and no serious efforts have been made to tax the rich. Saving rate in the government sector has been deteriorating due to exponential growth in the size of this sector and extraordinarily low productivity. Government has ventured in the territories where it had no business in the first place.

Ayaz Ahmed, Eatzaz Ahmad