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  • Cities have turned it around before

    Cities have turned it around before

    In 1975, NYC narrowly averted bankruptcy. In Shakespeare’s London, life expectancy was six years lower than the rest of the country. An 1842 report by Edwin Chadwick noted that a labourer in rural Rutland expected to live over twice as long as a labourer in the city of Liverpool. These cities built infrastructure backed by […]

  • Pakistan needs meaningful reform

    Pakistan needs meaningful reform

    Pakistan will survive this crisis. The government is slowing down the economy; it has almost entirely reversed the disastrous fuel subsides and started negotiations to resume the IMF programme. If it’s lucky, some friendly countries might even give us few billions in loan to shore up our dollar reserves. Crises averted – for the 22nd-odd […]

  • Pakistan: New government, old problems

    Pakistan: New government, old problems

    The curtains have drawn on Imran Khan’s premiership. His successor finds himself in a remarkably similar position as Khan did in 2018: struggling to pay for the large import bill, a budget deficit that likely needs to be financed by more debt, and a sliding rupee. That is the thing about Pakistan’s economy: nothing changes, […]

  • Making policy decisions under uncertainty

    Making policy decisions under uncertainty

    Co-authored with Sir Paul Collier and Victoria Delbridge The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed policymakers to high levels of uncertainty: governments simply do not have enough information to know what to do. The result is changing policy decisions mid-course: Britain reversed its strategy of building herd immunity when a new estimate put the likely death toll from this […]

  • Devolve more power to cities: they will need it more than ever

    Devolve more power to cities: they will need it more than ever

    Co-authored with Astrid Haas. COVID-19 pandemic started in a city and spread through them. The core benefit of cities — as an enabler of proximity — is also their biggest liability. This is exacerbated when infrastructure and services are scarce. Across sub-Saharan Africa, only a quarter of people have access to necessary handwashing facilities, including […]

  • The case for taxing landlords in Pakistan

    The case for taxing landlords in Pakistan

    BUY land for they aren’t making it anymore, Mark Twain once advised. Our politicians certainly seem to agree — some have over a dozen parcels of land to their name, according to recent asset declarations published by the Election Commission. None of this is a surprise. Pakistan’s rich (like the rest of us) like to […]

  • How Pakistan’s sugar industry extracts rent

    How Pakistan’s sugar industry extracts rent

    Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2020. Co-authored with Dr. Adeel Malik. While an inquiry on the sugar sector has been made public for the first time, the crisis that necessitated this inquiry is a recurring feature of Pakistan’s sugar industry. Rattled by a controversy every 18 months, why is the sugar industry so […]

  • What prevents developing countries from taxing more?

    What prevents developing countries from taxing more?

    Published: International Growth Centre, 12th Aug 2020. Virtually every country in the world taxes their populations. But, some do so more successfully than others. Most developing countries raise tax revenue equivalent to between 10% to 20% of their GDPs, some even less. Rich countries raise much more, on average 34%. If Pakistan distributed all its annual tax […]

  • Pakistan’s urban transition

    Pakistan’s urban transition

    Our policymakers have failed to understand the importance of city governance.

  • What Pakistan needs to do to break the vicious cycle of IMF bailouts

    What Pakistan needs to do to break the vicious cycle of IMF bailouts

    Should we ignore much-needed underlying reforms, we are destined to be stuck in this vicious cycle.

  • Review of Punjab Local Government Bill 2019

    Review of Punjab Local Government Bill 2019

    The Punjab Local Government Bill 2019 aims to establish 9 metropolitan corporations for almost all major cities.