Former Pakistani PM Shaukat Aziz: It’s not Government’s role to get involved in businesses

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, on Friday, in Bucharest, underscored that it’s not the Govt’s role to get involved in businesses, but to draw up policies, strategies and contribute to the set up of an environment that allows economic growth.

“It’s not the Govt’s role to get involved in business. Don’t get me wrong, people in the public sector are very smart […] but the Govt’s role is to establish policies, to be a regulator and say ‘no.’ In the real world, one wants the private sector to function. […] This was the philosophy I followed and I started with a massive privatization programme. I first started with the telecommunication system. It was owned by the state and in order to get a telephone, one had to know somebody or pay something,” he stated within the Good Governance Summit organized by the Strategikon.

Referring to his tenure, Shaukat Aziz mentioned that, after the experience of the telecommunication system privatization, he initiated a similar programme in respect to banking system.

“People were saying: ‘If you sell a bank to foreigners, your sovereignty will be compromised.’ I told them: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, a nation’s sovereignty is not so fragile. It’s a very robust concept.’ […] I wanted for the best telecommunication companies to come, the best banks and all that happened. I was physically attacked, they tried to blow me up. I was attacked daily in the press,” he mentioned.

The former PM also mentioned that the only time when he was applauded by the opposition, during his tenure, was when he announced that the debt to International Monetary Fund (IMF) was paid and the “economic sovereignty was regained”.

“When ill, one cannot blame the doctor. One can blame himself. When the economy is sick, you cannot blame the IMF for getting you in trouble. It was an ordeal dealing with them. Low-level bureaucrats, excuse me if someone comes from there – who weren’t able to do anything in their lives, come and say – because they have a document – what the board has decided. How the board can decide what we need? This is our privilege. I said that we must get rid of that. And the happiest day of my life – in eight years of holding the office – was when I went to Parliament, I was PM then, […] and I announced that we have requested to the Central Bank to pay the entire IMF debt,” he stated.

Shaukat Aziz underscored that in such scenario, a path to be followed must be established, a route that can be understood by the common citizen. He added that painful measures followed, such as cutting jobs. He also mentioned that in the period after the reform, the Pakistani economy recorded growths of 6-8 percent annually. Moreover, the poverty level has been reduced.

Shaukat Aziz mentioned that the Gov’t has the duty to announce three-four main objectives and to present them to the population’s understanding.

The former PM appreciated that the IMF and the World Bank need important reforms, because they are faced with a lot of bureaucracy.

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