Federal budget — people’s expectations
FEDERAL Budget this year is being announced in peculiar circum stances with the chief executive of the country approving the budget ary proposals from London and that too three days in advance as against the normal practice of approval of the budget by the Federal Cabinet in the morning of the day when budget is actually presented in the National Assembly. Every year, understandably, secrecy surrounds the proposals but despite that its main features are somehow get leaked and this year too such leaks indicate people should not expect much from the new budget, rather they should be ready to offer more ‘sacrifices’ on different pretexts.
Economic experts are unanimous in their opinion that the Government has the fiscal space to provide maximum relief to the masses but the only question is maintaining equilibrium in the income and expenditure and also fixing priorities in a just manner. Steep reduction in oil prices in the international market and sharp rise in remittances by Overseas Pakistanis should have been translated into tangible benefits for people but that has not happened and instead the import mafia has eaten up the savings as well as the additional foreign exchange resources. One can hardly dispute the sagacity and vision of the Government to create and upgrade infrastructure of the country as this is fundamental to socio-economic progress but it should not be done at the cost of development in other sectors. There is another problem of announcing hefty development programme but block releases during the year as we have seen during the current financial year when, apart from developmental cuts, releases for essential expenditure like salaries have also been affected and many departments are not getting salaries on time. The proposal to generate additional income of Rs. 160 billion would surely mean an increase in taxes for the common man as the privileged class is not willing to pay its due share of taxes despite repeated attempts by almost all governments in the past. People are already suffering hugely because of the decision of the Government to impose taxes even on food items and now again there is a proposal to impose more tax on milk, which speaks volumes about mental approach of the conceiver of the idea. Poultry, sugar and wheat flour prices have been allowed to skyrocket to benefit some lobbies and therefore, fixed income groups justifiably demand adequate compensation, which must be given in the budget.