Costs versus Benefits of Swiss Cases

Swiss Cases remain big news. Every day it seems like there is some new discussion about these cases that were closed years ago. Mostly this new discussion includes no new information, but only speculation and slogans that are transparent political posturing by all parties. What is missing from the discussion is any insight into what the costs and the benefits are of continuing to drag on with this issue.

Cost-benefit analysis is a process used to determine whether or not a particular decision is worth following. Mostly this is thought of in terms of businesses making decisions, but it is also used by everyone in some way. While you might find some benefits from buying an expensive car like a Mercedes Benz, probably the costs are more than the benefits, so you don’t do it. Or, you might think that it would be nice to have all the money in a bank, but robbing that bank will incur costs (prison, death) that make it not worth the crime. Cost-benefit analysis should also be used by government to determine if particular decisions are a good idea.

So, what are the costs of the Swiss cases? To answer that question we should look at both quantitative and qualitative measures. First, let use explore the quantitative side of things. After all, the Swiss cases are in large part about a quantifiable amount of money, are they not?

The allegation is that looted monies are sitting in Swiss banks and the government should get that money back. According to documents reviewed by Express Tribune, the government has spent Rs.318 Millions (USD$3.7 Million) on legal fees over the past seven years trying to recover this money.

And what has Pakistan received for it’s Rs.318 Million? Nothing.

That’s right. After seven years and millions of dollars – hundreds of millions of Rupees – nothing has changed.

There are also qualitative issues to be considered. For example, how does it make Pakistan look in the eyes of the rest of the world if we are constantly carrying on and spending hundreds of millions to pursue a case that has been dead for years? When even the Swiss prosecutor says there is no chance of going forward, what must it look like to other nations when we spend resources trying to revive a dead dog rather than to rebuild the country?

Certainly there would be some benefit to prosecuting corruption cases because it will serve as a disincentive to would-be crooks and looters. If there was no punishment for robbing a bank, surely there would be some persons who would do so. But there is a difference between prosecuting corruption cases and obsessing over them.

The Swiss cases in particular have been investigated and prosecuted for years and have only resulted in a loss of hundreds of millions of Rupees in taxpayer money and a loss of national prestige in the eyes of the world. It’s time to let go.

With all the problems that are facing the country, let’s concentrate on problems that we can solve. Let’s talk about ideas for increasing transparency in government so that we can see who is actually paying taxes and where that money is going. Then, if there is some corruption, we can prosecute it without wasting hundreds of millions and almost ten years only to find that we have nothing to show for it.

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