What’s for the people?

 
December 11, 2019

Under the austerity drive of the government, all of the provincial governments providing a cash surplus of Rs202bn to the centre in the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year mean that the...

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Under the austerity drive of the government, all of the provincial governments providing a cash surplus of Rs202bn to the centre in the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year mean that the provinces have hardly spent a substantial chunk of their shares for the welfare of the citizens. In these times, when inflation is the highest in the last nine years, returning such a significant amount to the centre means that the provincial governments are not providing any relief to the citizens. It seems that the state has decided to run as per the dictates of social Darwinism.

Not utilising the development component of the budget means that the provincial governments are thriftier while spending on improving the living standards of the people. The provincial governments’ reluctance to improve people’s living standards, coupled with high inflation, will have severe consequences on ordinary people lives. The government’s reluctance to spend on people’s welfare finds an explanation by a requirement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that compels the central government to come up with effective financial management. But is not spending the development component of the budget the only way of improving the government’s financial management? The federal government could have curtailed the current component of expenditure of the budget. Unfortunately PM Imran Khan, who makes lofty claims of making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state , is not bothered by the contradictions in his claim and the fact that the cuts on development funds will harm the common man. The policymakers probably want to conveniently forget that Pakistan will see dramatic increases in inequality and child poverty under the IMF’s adjustment programme. The government needs to understand that the development budget where allocated needs to be spent; if it is so keen on savings, they should be done at the budgetary stage.

Qazi Jamshed Alam Siddiqui

Lahore


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