Fed­eral bud­get — peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

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.

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