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Monday May 27, 2024

Increased budgetary allocation for social sector demanded

Karachi Economists, senior lawyers, researchers, labour rights activists and parliamentarians have called for increased allocations to social sector schemes in the forthcoming budget.They also emphasised the need for increased coverage of the poor population in the social safety schemes by both federal and provincial governments.All this was highlighted at the

By our correspondents
May 25, 2015
Karachi
Economists, senior lawyers, researchers, labour rights activists and parliamentarians have called for increased allocations to social sector schemes in the forthcoming budget.
They also emphasised the need for increased coverage of the poor population in the social safety schemes by both federal and provincial governments.
All this was highlighted at the discussion session on “Fiscal Allocation for Social Protection: Now is the Time” organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) here on Saturday.
Senator Saeed Ghani, Dr Ikramul Haq, a tax expert, senior economist Haris Gazdar from Collective for Social Sciences Research, Syed Akbar Adil, Deputy Director of Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and Karamat Ali, Chief Executive of PILER were the main speakers. Representatives of trade unions, political parties, human rights and civil activists attended the dialogue in large number.
Dr Ikramul Haq, a tax expert, spoke on “Tax and Allocations for Social Protection,” saying in Pakistan 80 percent burden of the taxes are put on the common people, whereas the burden of the $17 billion debt was also borne by the common people.
He continued that there was a nexus of military, bureaucracy and politicians, who do not pay much tax but enjoy all the government perks. Haq pointed out that recently the government has provided a tax exemption worth Rs1500 billion through issuing statutory regulatory orders, adding, “Parliament’s right of taxation has been delegated.”
“We have inserted 25-A in the constitution for compulsory education but no province has practically taken any serious measures, including allocation of funds for education nor any province has made legislation in this regard,” he informed the audience and added that it as a reality that no one wanted to send his children to a government school because there was no confidence of people on the state institutions.
Lauding the efforts of organizers, Senator Saeed Ghani said creating awareness about the problems was a big challenge and the civil society should play its role in this regard. He underlined the need for the community’s oversight on utilisation of budget.
Economist Haris Gazdar from Collective for Social Sciences Research traced out the history of social protection system in the world. “Social protection is linked to a contract between a citizen and the state, which was introduced in 1940s in the Europe where socialist movement was strong and there was also strong capitalism.”
He went on that civil and political rights were made fundamental rights at first and later economic and cultural rights were also included in them. He said that for provision of education, healthcare, housing and food resources were needed and the state devised mechanism to generate those resources through taxation.
Gazdar highlighted in the labour force survey, data of unpaid family members and bonded labour were provided, which were actually not considered as labourers. He pointed out that social housing has been introduced in many countries like Hong Kong, but in Pakistan it was only a slogan.
The social activist said in our society exploitation was still done on the basis of sex, caste and creed. “For example, in Punjab there is a law, which distinguishes between the agriculture tribes and non-agriculture tribes.”
According to him, social protection schemes like Benazir Income Support Programme were helping poor to some extent. “The scheme has improved social status of women.”
In his concluding remarks, PILER Chief Executive Karamat Ali said poor were made poorer due to various policies and economic conditions in Pakistan.
Citing particular articles of Pakistan’s constitution, he said the constitution ensures that all citizens have a right to life to live with dignity. “Under the 18th Amendment compulsory education has become a fundamental right,” he stressed.
“Article 37 says the state would promote educational and economic interests of the backward people. It is an important article with vast scope, which can help make a just society,” he stated.
He added that in a civilised society it was the duty of the state to make arrangements for a decent living of people. “There are about 29 social protection institutions and programmes in Pakistan, including Baitul Mal, Micro Finance, BBISP, Citizens Damages Compensation Programme, Utility Stores, Zakat, NDMA, Social Health Insurance, Workers Welfare Fund.”
In this regard, Karamat said Pakistan has ratified many local and international conventions. “We have signed many obligations including local, international and religious obligations.”