“Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi Putting this quote into a more extensive economic perspective, as many criticised the statement, “beggars can’t be choosers,” I believe we can still choose to be wise and turn the tables. However, this financial and political wisdom will test nerves and patience. The good news is that the IMF has given some breathing room to the suffocated economy with an additional promise of $2 billion and the extension of another nine months in the IMF loan program. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and the IMF had signed a USD 6 billion 39-month Extended Fund Facility (July 2019 to September 2022). However, the previous government did not live up to its commitments, and the program was stalled for the majority of that time, with USD 3 billion remaining unpaid. However, specific tasks are standing in between the IMF’s external funding before they can reach the State Bank. Firstly, IMF expects the newly formed government to undo specific tasks that it did not agree with during the former premier’s government. A successful IMF review means a successful inflow of external funding from other financial aid bodies such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. Secondly, it will be a mammoth of public pressure and criticism as the leadership will roll back subsidies on the power and oil sectors, giving rise to a wave of inflation. The IMF experts never considered these subsidies sustainable that added to their country’s widening current account deficit. Thirdly, there is an uphill task of locking a comprehensive budget strategy for the next fiscal year 2022-23 before IMF’s seventh EFF review. The fear of remittances bleeding out of the system due to political affiliations cannot be entirely shrugged off. Now we must accept the fact that any inflation will receive public outcry from a segment of the society. However, what is needed is a strong awareness and narrative-building efforts from the political think tanks to curb this uproar well in advance. As for the upcoming budget and the strategic financial planning for the year 2022-23, the government seems to be taking a much-needed proactive approach. Within a few days of taking office, the current government made certain vital announcements such as 15 per cent Disparity Allowance 2022 for the employees working under the Federal Government, a 10 per cent increase in the salary and pension of all the government employees, an increment in the minimum wage to Rs. 25,000. These decisions will have a financial impact on the upcoming budget and must be carefully threaded into the budget. On the other hand, Pakistan Stock Exchange has sent 11 capital market-related budgeting measures for the 2022-23 budget. According to a statement released by the PSX, “Implementation of the proposals will help document the economy and increase tax revenues, while also helping to meet important social objectives.” The fear of remittances bleeding out of the system due to the political affiliations also cannot be entirely shrugged off. In this scenario, if continued to be reinforced and pushed to the users, the RDA product may eventually become remedial and sustain its positive impact on the economy. Also, with only about three million people out of a total population of 220 million filing income tax returns, the future budget will have to introduce measures that help broaden the tax base. Certain GST revisions must be considered as part of the budgetary propositions, such as the imposition of 17 per cent GST on raw materials of the medicines, 17 per cent sales tax import of machinery for renewable energy including solar, wind, and nuclear power generation and more. Also critical to the reformation of the economy is the strengthening of the SME sector, which has been in discussion in the last government but lacked a consolidated strategy. One of the most effective ways of bringing this change is the introduction or more significant involvement of the development banks. The international funds must be channelled through the developmental banks and focused on specific sectors such as IT, agriculture, SMEs, Green Projects and more. Another effective way is the reformation of commercial banks to allow greater penetration of loans to rural users, especially the SMEs that contribute nearly 40 per cent of the GDP. Constructing a solid financial model for the Public Sector Developmental projects could be the key differentiator between the performance of current and past regimes. This channelizing financial model can also renew the trust of funding bodies such as the Asian Development Bank, which pledged $3.23 billion for Pakistan in 2021 to promote green recovery. According to the ADB’s Annual report 2021, it committed $600 million to Pakistan’s Integrated Social Protection Development Program. The government will also need to break down major projects according to project management principles, identify resources, and allocate resources accordingly. I also believe that clear financial priorities must be laid out based on the criticality of the projects without losing sight of the economic vision for the country. But like I said in the beginning, the road towards economic independence would be a thorny one and full of challenges. The writer is the Foreign Secretary-General for BRI College, China. He tweets @DrHasnain_javed.