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Lahore

June 4, 2016

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‘Budget favours only industrialists, landlords’

Trade unions say insufficient increase in salaries, pensions; no measures taken for landless peasants

LAHORE: Leaders of trade unions and labour welfare organisations on Friday condemned the Annual Federal Budget 2016-17 over lack of spending on public interest issues, huge favour shown to big industrialists and landowners, and insufficient increase in salaries and pensions of government employees. 

Talking to The News shortly after the budget was announced by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Secretary General of Awami Workers Party Farooq Tariq said the 10 percent increase in the salaries of federal government employees and pensioners that is to be effective from July 1 this year is inadequate when compared to the state of inflation in the country. He dismissed the new official minimum wage of Rs14,000 which is Rs1,000 more than last year’s which he said was not being strictly implemented in the province.

The veteran activist labelled the budget against public welfare and designed only to please multinationals and big businesses.

No measures are included for landless peasants, he said, adding that only big farmers will receive subsidies on agricultural inputs like fertilizers and seeds of staple crops.

He accused the government of placing the entire burden of deficit on loans from IMF and World Bank on labourers through increased indirect taxes on ordinary food items and allowing private insurance companies to profit from the newly announced Rs9 billion worth health insurance scheme. 

General Secretary of All Pakistan Trade Union Federation and Executive Director of Working Women Organisation Aima Mahmood told The News that the public had no expectations from the Budget 2016-17 for economic relief but it still disappointed them in the end. She said the government instead of spending on mega projects could have created new schemes to curb youth employment and create opportunities for the country’s women to achieve financial independence.

She said the budget was against the concerns of 60 percent of the population living under the poverty line and it was made as per the instructions of international financial institutions whom Pakistan is heavily indebted to. She told The News it was a shame that parliamentarians both in the National and Punjab Assemblies had increased their salaries by almost 100 percent but could not do the same for their less fortunate counterparts in the working population. 

General Secretary of Pakistan Workers Confederation Rubina Jameel meanwhile told The News that the increasing expenses of Prime Minister Secretariat, President House, and the Parliament House were a slap in the face of the working class. Jameel said the increase in the defence budget was unwarranted as performance was lacking and a climate of insecurity had heightened in the country with a recent spate of terrorist attacks including the 27 March attack at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore.

She termed the budget ‘capitalist’ for catering solely to business interests of the ruling party.

 

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