Budget – Expectations and disappointments

People were anxiously awaiting Budget for the year 2021-22 amid misgivings and apprehensions. The last year has been terrible for the people due to high inflation and ever rising cost of living. Thousands of people lost their jobs due to Covid-19, no effort was made by the government to create more jobs as promised except appointing people on high profile jobs and paying them in millions, for which there is no justification. Even oil rich Kingdoms don’t pay such huge salaries as we pay to certain blue eyed people. Opening of Pannah Gah and giving cash to poor under Ehsas Program(old name BISP) did provide relief to some people but these are temporary solutions that cannot substitute permanent arrangements.
Annual budget is an annual ritual that has nothing to do with common man as it is tailor made to suit the convenience of elite who always remain the main beneficiaries. We have seen how black money has been allowed to convert in to white money by introducing amnesty schemes by present and previous governments. Since loot and plunder has become common feature of Pakistan therefore every government at some stage or the other introduces amnesty schemes to lure in people with black money to invest in certain schemes by imposing very little tax to regularise the loot.
Budget basically is cut and paste of last years budget with changed figures with flowery English praising the government for its achievements and criticising the opposition, on other hand opposition creates noise and tamasha and converts the house in to fish market but the finance minister amid hue and cry continues with the speech. We are observing this drama for many years and it will continue until and unless our leaders of both sides display maturity.
Let us see present economic indicators.Foreign Reserves $23.57 bn, Inflation 8.83 (unofficial 13%), Export $ 22.56bn, Imports $50.07bn( Trade balance 27.49bn) Remittance 26.74bn C/A $0.77bn. These figures are from (Jul 20-Apr 21) Foreign Debt $116.31,Domestic Debt 25,936bn, GDP 3.40 per capita income $1,561. With all these indicators it is no more a rocket science to anticipate what gives us new budget. The good news is about Pakistan Stock Exchange trading over 48000 points
Undoubtedly budget appears to have provided relief to common man to some extent. Minimum salary has been raised to Rs 20000, a good step although it is still in much lower side but the government has to ensure that this is implemented as most of the organisations disregard the orders. No new taxes, 10% increase in pension and salary after 2 years has rightly been rejected by the government servants and they demand at least 20%.The total outlay is 8.5 Trillion, deficit by 3.99 Trillion, The deficit shall be arranged by external financing and domestic sources.To be frank any budget that is deficit can never be people friendlytherefore people should be mentally prepared to receive frequent shocks as we have no mechanism to control prices.All governments have miserably failed to bring traders under tax net, as long as economy is not documented we can never achieve self sufficiency and stand on our own feet.It will be interesting to know that out of total lay of Rs 8.5 Trillion three major heads shall eat up Rs 7.881 trillion( Debt Retirement 3.1 trillion, Provinces 3.411 trillion. Defence 1.370 trillion) out of total amount 8.5trillion leaving only 0.698 trillion
It is no more a rocket science to know that if other allocations are added we are left with nothing. Finance Minister has said that petroleum levy will be taken up to Rs 20 to achieve petroleum levy target to Rs 610 billion. Once petroleum prices increase then prices of everything will increase that would cause more inflation and poor shall suffer the great
There are no short cuts, no immediate solution. As long as we don’t mange our expenditure according to our earning the poor shall continue suffering. We must stop mega projects till such time we repay the debts.Progress of country is not measured with motorways, highways, high rise buildings but condition of poor people. We have already mortgaged our motorways, airports, ports and continue spending on units that are giving permanent losses. Our privatisation plans yet to be materialised. If we want to succeed in our mission first and foremost task is to get united as one nation, we must forget our differences failing which we are doomed to endanger our existence.

Alana Iqbal has summed up in this couplet
Millat Kay sath Rabta Ustawar Rakh
Pewasta Reh Shaharyar Se,Umeed -e- Bahar Rakh
Keep very strong communication with the national
Remain attached to the tree and have spring’s expectations!

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