close
Wednesday May 25, 2022

Business community demands not to enforce mini-budget

January 17, 2022

KARACHI: The Business Group and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry have cried out while forcefully urging the government not to enforce anti-business provisions of the IMF-dictated mini-budget and instead should concentrate on broadening the tax-base to generate revenue to run the affairs.

In this regard, the government should put in place an effective mechanism to control smuggling of oil and host of other items costing the national exchequer billions of rupees each month. The Karachi business community lamented the government for enforcing tax on the export processing zones for the first time in the history of the country. It urged the government to withdraw it forthwith for salvaging economy that is indeed in a very bad shape incapable of withstanding the pitfalls of any bad policy decisions. It also apprehended that the mini-budget may plunge economy in the downward spiral beyond recognition making it unviable altogether, God forbid. The government should address the concerns of the business community that are undoubtedly legitimate and, therefore, should be considered for an amicable resolution.

The ruthless additional taxes on imports of raw material, including five per cent on the import of cotton, will surely blunt the edge of competitiveness in favor of our competitors, as our textile exports will be adversely affected notwithstanding the EU GSP Plus facility to Pakistani exports in the vast EU market. It may be kept in mind that textile sector is the major source of foreign exchange earnings that should not be relegated to the periphery for being so crucial in the country’s endeavors to earn foreign exchange.

The rise in the levy on petroleum products and increase in the tariff of electricity and gas have surely wreaked havoc on the business community. The cost of doing business has resultantly increased significantly to the utter frustration of the business community and the people at large who have to bear the brunt of such harsh taxation as end consumers. For the manufacturers and producers have to pass on these to the people as part of a survival strategy. It has to find pathways out through the labyrinth of market forces that prove unforgiving for those who do not correctly and timely read its trends and dynamics. The sugar and wheat crises are the manifestation of the aftermaths of the poor judgment. It is an infallible principle of the market economy that the business venture, small or mega, cannot and will not survive or thrive that does not lead to incentivise the factory owners and the people working there with the bare minimum profit to keep it going hoping better and profitable intervals may eventually unfold in due course.

The people’s opprobrium against the government and its policies was evident from the results of the local bodies elections in the KP, the stronghold of the ruling party, where it had been in power for the last eight years. The fatal blow to the party should have nudged the leadership for correcting the direction but the contours of the mini-budget suggest that the government was on a collision course to punish not only the KP people but also to the entire country, as the mini-budget may be like the falling of heaven of price-hike on the people who have been living on the edge because the inflation and terrified tariffs on utility services, (electricity, gas) have broken their back. Sadly, their unabated moaning and whimpering have not pushed the ruling leadership to pay attention to their sufferings that have been compounding without respite.

The PDM leadership is reportedly inching towards a position what the (PPP) leadership has been articulating all along that the democratic strategy --- no confidence motion --- should be followed to the dislodge the selected, incompetent and vindictive government that has lost the raison d’eter (justification) as it has miserably failed on all fronts so far as the delivery of services to provide relief to the people is concerned. Instead they have been besetting with the unprecedented inflation making their lives miserable at whatever angel one looks at. The prices of food items of the common-man-basket have gone through the roof threatening their subsistence level, as the conflagration of spiraling inflation has outpaced their monthly income with a big margin, and are wondering when their long night of suffering will come to an end. The mini-budget has squarely dashed hopes of light at the end of the dark tunnel. The IMF-dictated mini-budget entails enhancing of levy on petroleum, exponential surge in electricity and gas tariffs throughout the current financial year to collect around Rs700 million in the name of financial adjustment as enforced by the (IMF) and the government was seemingly miserably cowed down because it has no ground to stand on, as the economy of the country had been heading towards precipice in perpetuity. The leadership has no vision to turn the tide because it has little knowledge and no experience of managing the country and the state of the economy that had been on the trajectory from bad to worse since this government was thrusted upon the people three years ago. The state of economy today reinforces the incumbent government’s inaptitude in this count at the expense of the country’s economic sovereignty that has been sadly compromised (mini-budget) to the collective chagrin of the nation. According to the business community, “The consistent rise in prices of petrol, electricity and gas gives the impression that the (IMF) had devised a programme to make Pakistan completely unviable.”

It is as clear as water that the tsunami of inflation and unprecedented price-hike of all the goods across-the-board in general and of the food items in particular is the foregone conclusion that may inundate all and sundry indiscriminately seriously threatening their livelihood. The overwhelming majority of the populace of the country may be trapped in the vicious circle created by the mini-budget pushing them to the hell to suffer endlessly, praying for the change of inefficient and incompetent government while firmly believing that any situation could not be worse than created for them by the incumbent government. How sad they are seemingly ready to hedge the bet even to take the risk of the worst case scenario. Such shriek from their hearts is disturbing to imagine but the agony and anguish the people have been going through at the hands of the incumbent government and its policies destined to wrest the last morsel from the mouth of the people are appallingly abhorrent and detesting by any stretch of imagination. The anti-people policies of the government have been shredding their dignity whereas the Constitution guarantees the upholding of the same as the constitutional obligation of the executive branch of the government headed by prime minister.

The honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan while addressing a book launch last week in Islamabad had also pointed out to the tendency of the complicated governance that requires to be rectified because the desperate people are filing enormous amount of petitions in the courts and burdening the judiciary impeding the institution to focus on important legal issues those have far reaching implications for the state and society. The extraordinary message of the top judge is loud and clear that the government machinery and the hapless people are facing problems and their fundamental rights are being violated with impunity. Since the executive branch of the government is not delivering, therefore, the people have been knocking at the door of the courts as a last resort to seek justice. The government administrative machinery’s proverbial inertia is at play, as delayed laws lead to delayed justice that tantamount to denial of justice “because justice delayed is equated with justice denied.”

Former chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa while speaking on the occasion had underscored the importance of saving the state and the Constitution because they are intertwined and, therefore, could not be defined in isolation. He had maintained that society would not achieve its potential without total commitment to the Constitution and the agency of state. He had pointed out abrogation of the Constitution by the authoritarian forces inflicting irreparable damage on the country and the constitutional rule.

It may be recalled that General Ayub Khan’s first sin was when he had abrogated the 1956 Constitution eroding the basis of unity between the East wing and the West wing culminating in the dismemberment of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh.

(Muhammad Shaheedi@yhoo.com)

Comments