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May 29, 2017

Basic national issues ignored in budget: PAT


May 29, 2017

Pakistan Awami Tehreek has termed the federal budget of 2017-18 anti-people and anti-Constitution.

In a white paper issued here on Sunday, it said the PML-N government by taking Rs800 billion loans and allocating Rs1,363 billion for payment of interest has again ignored the issues like education, health, access to justice, law and order, adulteration-free food and clean drinking water. The allocation for payment of interest is far more than the amount earmarked for development and defence.

The white paper was issued after a special session of the PAT budget committee with secretary general Khurram Nawaz Gandapur in the chair while Basharat Jaspal, Brig (r) Muhammad Mushtaq, Fayyaz Warraich, Dr SM Zameer, Noorullah Siddiqui, Sajid Mahmood Bhatti, Faraz Naz and Mazhar Mahmood Alvi participated as members.

The PAT said that Article 38F of the Constitution emphasises the need for ending interest but it is unfortunate that the government made policies that encouraged interest-based trade. It said the worst example in this regard is an allocation of Rs1,363 billion for payment of interest.

By pursuing interest-based policies, the government has miserably failed to fulfill its Constitutional obligations of providing social justice, improving financial well-being of people and providing equal growth opportunities.

Of the government dependence on loans, it said increase in loans from the GDP permissible limit of 60pc to 69pc is a sign of weak economy and is also against the national interest.

It also criticised the government for ignoring the National Action Plan and allocating Rs140 million only for NECTA which was created to stem growing terrorism. NECTA is short of funds for three years and this amount will go to salaries and utilities only.

For protection of 210 million Pakistanis, only Rs140 million have been allocated while for security of foreigners a total of Rs10 billion earmarked. This implies that rooting out terrorism is not the government priority.

Taking notice of reduction in subsidy on electricity, utility stores and departments of National Food Security Research Division, it said electricity and staple prices will increase in the coming year and availability of adulteration-free food will remain a dream.

Last year’s subsidy of Rs7 billion on utility stores has been reduced by 43 percent. This year it will be Rs4 billion. Likewise, Ramazan Package with a 25pc cut has also been reduced to Rs1.5 billion.

It condemned the baton-charge of farmers before the budget session and termed a reduction of 71pc in PASSCO budget anti-farmers, as it would deprive 71pc farmers of selling wheat at support price.

The PAT also blasted reduction in KESC subsidy from Rs22 billion to Rs15 billion which would force Karachiites to buy electricity at rates higher than those in other parts of the country, which is discrimination on the part of the government.

“The government got loans to the tune of over Rs6,500 billion during the last four years and it intends to get over Rs800 billion in loans in the next fiscal. The government hoping to get loans from all over the world has presented an “historic” budget, the PAT white paper alleged, saying the government has planned to get Rs168 billion from China, Rs17 billion from France, Rs5 billion from Korea, Rs80 million from Turkey, Rs12 billion from the US, Rs5 billion from Japan, Rs105 billion from Sukook Bond, Rs165 billion from Islamic Development Bank and Rs128 billion from Asian Development Bank.

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