By Asad Ullah Khan
Jun 6, 2014
Much was promised by the government for the 2014-2015 budget, but contrary to the pledges made by PML-N government during the election campaign, they did not deliver as much as they had promised. It seems that the PML-N government is not working on the agenda of improving the common man’s life. Their policies mainly revolve around the interests of a specific community, mainly business tycoons. The government needs to focus on its actions which benefit the common people instead of mere words. The budget lacks true and fair figures and seems nothing more than manipulation.
The common man was offered nothing in the budget except peanuts whereas the elites are rewarded by all means. Maintaining the past tradition, a significant increase in the budget can be seen in those areas where reduction was necessary as the budget of economic affairs (food, irrigation, forestry and fishing) is reduced by 9 percent as compared to the previous year which directly affects the life of a common man.
Subsidies in different sectors affecting the common man have been reduced from 340 billion rupees to 203 billion rupees which is a huge reduction and an increased burden on the poor. This cut has been made from the energy sector which will not only result in energy shortage but also in increased prices of electricity. The common man will have to bear high tariffs. Health and education sectors have once again been ignored by the government. The government has reduced the education budget by 11 per cent. Moreover, the programmes offered by Higher Education Commission seem to be favouring the students from Punjab province only. This step will fuel the feeling of deprivation among the students from smaller provinces as the sparks of nationalism can be ignited in smaller provinces which can be capitalized by other destabilizing elements.
Both these factors have a significant role in the formation of a stable and progressive society. The figure of external debt resources will increase dramatically which means foreign debt will continue to be a burden.
Nominal increase of 10 per cent in the pay of government employees along with increase of only 1,000 rupees in the minimum basic wage, is not a significant step. In addition to this government should design such budget in which local industry of our country can nourish instead of promoting foreign companies as they sell finished products on much higher prices than the local suppliers. This will also help raise the living standard of lower middle class people of society.
The increase of 11.6 per cent in the defence budget is due to the ongoing insurgency and threats looming on the Western as well as the Eastern side. It may be also because of the raise of 10 per cent in military budget by New Delhi.
According to the finance minister, for protection of poor segments of society the government has designed National Income Support Programme which consists of Prime Minister’ s Youth programme and Benazir Income Support Programme. This step will have a little impact in a developing society. The government should introduce such packages and incentives by which the above-mentioned segments of society can live a life that leads to self-sufficiency and not making them dependent on aid and grants. Instead of doing such political stunts, the government should support cottage industry and small-scale industries at various levels.
Pakistan is not in a state to bear any more experiments now. It needs proper long-term planning to achieve the dream of sustainable economic growth. All the stake holders and segments of society should be consulted in this regard. A developed Pakistan can be seen only in the form of industrialized Pakistan, and for this we will have to bolster with our energy requirements. Without improvement in health, education and economic sustainability Pakistan will never be able to achieve firm growth and will move towards darkness.