Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back of the Envelope for Me, Back of the Class for Mian Sahib

On August 27, Sher-e-Punjab and Saviour of Pakistan, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif strongly recommended that the federal government should immediately provide at least Rs.100,000 (one lakh rupees) to each flood affected family. Immediately, he said, before Eid, and of course he would welcome it if the government provided more. He repeated the same line today while addressing flood affectees.

Just the sort of statement that makes you reach for discarded envelopes and a pencil stub for rough 'back of the envelope' calculations.

Let's take the conservative figure of there being some 17 million flood-affected people (some estimates run to over 20 million). Then, making the assumption that there are on average 10 people in a family (which may in fact be too high an assumption), this means that at least 1.7 million families will each need to be given Rs.100,000. That means the government would need to have Rs. (1,700,000 x 100,000) to dole out.

1,700,000 x 100,000 =  170, 000,000,000

So the government would need to be able to hand out 170 Billion rupees immediately, before Eid. Now, since big numbers often make people's eyes glaze over, let's see what this means in US dollar terms. Taking the dollar-rupee exchange rate as equivalent to 85 rupees, 170 Billion rupees comes to exactly 2 Billion US dollars.

To put it all into perspective, consider for a moment that the entire Kerry-Lugar assistance comes to $1.5 Billion a year. Consider also that the cash requirement for such a handout easily dwarfs the budgeted allocation for any department or ministry under the Public Sector Development Programme for the whole year (the entire year's allocation for the National Highway Authority, the largest chunk of the PSDP, e.g. is 44.64 billion rupees). And Mian sahib wants that US$2 billion to be handed out in cash within 10 days??! And this is aside from the cost of whatever rehabilitation and reconstruction would need to come next. Noble sentiments I am sure, but where exactly would all this money come from? Does no one surrounding Mian sahib know basic mathematics? What is alleged financial whiz-kid Ishaq Dar doing?

Nawaz Sharif answers the question: how much is 2 + 2?

One could be forgiven for being shocked at a businessman's naivete about money. But remember, this is the same businessman who introduced the yellow cab scheme in the 1990s and the sasti roti scheme in the Punjab in 2008-2010 (now quietly wound up), both of which ended up bankrupting the governments he controlled. Obviously some people believe more in the value of populist rhetoric than in realism.


Anonymous said...

How about writing on the double sectarian attacks?

SS's BS only hurt our ears, it hasn't killed anybody, yet. Lahore and Karachi firing/bombing incidents on the other hand.....

Tazeen said...

Baray Mian sahab needs to go back to school and chotay mian sahab - if one takes his tweets seriously - said it himself that he needs a lot of growing up to do. Who are we left with to run the biggest province of the country?

Anonymous said...

i don't understand these people who self-righteously insist that the people who write on this blog *should* write about particular events because they are more important. hello? who said this blog is supposed to be a space for adding one more voice to the cacophony of sentiments and op-eds in the media about everything under the sun? get a grip.

Magnum said...

Anon @ 7:10
You obviously aren't a Shia.
Tell them to get a grip after what happened yesterday.

Anonymous said...

why can't this money be given ?
just scrap some budget off the big boys ? too hard to do ?

TLW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TLW said...

Magnum, listen, is there any website out there for Pakistanis to discuss and talk about terrorism in Pakistan. Seriously man, besides or, is there any website where Pakistanis can sit and track and dissect all the violence in their country from some sort of neutral or non-pro-army or non-pro-religion angle? Just from the angle of stopping violence? That's why I called my blog These Long Wars. Cause we seem to be stuck in these long drawn out conflicts, and nobody is sitting and discussing and dissecting them from a non-partisan angle, for the common citizen.
Cafe Pyala, could you be of any help here? Is there anybody there who is tracking violence from the layman's perspective the way or follow military issues? We are civilians, and we need our reporters to talk for us too.

Anonymous said...

Magnum, this is anon@7.10. i actually *am* shia. but what on earth has my sense of anger at lahore's carnage got to do with what i expect to read on cafe pyala??

2 Tok said...

Why you are Sharif Brothers haters? He must have meant billions to be distributed from all the aid pouring in from all over the world. Even though, it is being channeled through NGOs since no one trust PPP government in specific and Pakistanis in general to be honest, Pakistan government can still ask donors to rebuild houses and that will be equivalent to 100,000 NS is suggesting. Why we are still having all the hatred among us and leave no chance to score cheap points and spill out our old grudge?

Can at this moment of national calamity, we can shun our hatred for each other?