Con­tours of next bud­get

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENT -

Tmarks HOUGH de­tails of the Bud­get Strat­egy Pa­per ap­proved by the Fed eral Cabi­net on Wed­nes­day have been, as usual, kept se­cret but re

made by Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ishaq Dar on the oc­ca­sion in­di­cate what is in store for the masses in the next bud­get. The PM talked about de­liv­er­ing ben­e­fits of progress to peo­ple but both he and his Fi­nance Min­is­ter stressed on ex­pan­sion of tax net and bring­ing the bud­getary deficit down, which in­evitably meant pre­scrip­tion of bit­ter pills for the com­mon man.

The health of the econ­omy has surely im­proved due to bet­ter eco­nomic man­age­ment dur­ing the last three years and the Gov­ern­ment also de­serves credit for launch­ing some of the mega projects of far-reach­ing sig­nif­i­cance. In ad­di­tion, the Gov­ern­ment got a big fi­nan­cial cush­ion due to rapidly fall­ing prices of oil in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and pas­sage of its frac­tion to the do­mes­tic con­sumers. Prices of raw ma­te­rial in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket have slumped pos­i­tively im­pact­ing im­ports and neg­a­tively af­fect­ing ex­ports. How­ever, one must point out that ben­e­fits of the eco­nomic poli­cies and ini­ti­a­tion of mega projects have not trick­led down as, like pre­vi­ous regimes, the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment too re­lied more on in­di­rect tax­a­tions like hefty in­crease on taxes and du­ties on POL prod­ucts and de­nied ben­e­fits of fall­ing prices of com­modi­ties in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket to the do­mes­tic con­sumers by im­pos­ing re­stric­tive so-called reg­u­la­tory du­ties on im­ports and pro­vid­ing sub­sidy to in­dus­tri­al­ists like sugar mafia on ex­ports and as a con­se­quence the com­mon man was forced to pay much more than peo­ple in other parts of the world for th­ese com­modi­ties. The Gov­ern­ment claims to have in­creased tax col­lec­tion but it is not be­cause of in­clu­sion of sa­cred cows in the tax net or mak­ing tax-dodgers to pay but in­crease in in­di­rect tax­a­tion like the one on POL. Again, when the Gov­ern­ment claims to have cared for the poor it al­ways meant in­crease in al­lo­ca­tions for BISP, a pro­gramme which is noth­ing but sheer wastage of tax-pay­ers’ money as it has mis­er­ably failed to al­le­vi­ate poverty or mit­i­gate woes of the poor. There­fore, if the Gov­ern­ment is gen­uinely in­ter­ested in pro­vid­ing re­lief to peo­ple, then it should go for sub­stan­tial in­crease in salary and al­lowances, pro­vide sub­sidy on es­sen­tial food items and re­duce taxes on items of daily use.

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