Do we deserve to be a mouse?
It is no secret that the public in Pakistan is dissatisfied with the present condition. The point is can we get rid of dependence on foreign powers for our economy and other things. To take the causes of this morass, we have to understand that the people in power must tackle three problem, one learn to be self reliant in economy, eradicate corruption as much as is possible and adopt economy in the Government expenditure. Two things seem in our reach, self reliance and economy in government expenditure. Corruption can be eradicated in a big way . Each item is discussed below: First self reliance in economy. This can be greatly achieved if the tax net is widened both in Urban areas and agricultural areas. If one looks at the traffic jams in cities and towns, one can see there is no dearth of money not in the highest strata of the society but even some what below, The number of mobile telephones is equal to rich countries, use of TV in small income houses, wide use of electric and gas gadgets, etc There is also considerable construction of houses and buildings as well. All these facts bear testimony to the existence of a division in the population. There is a super rich class consisting of industrial rich and upper strata of wealthy Pakistanis. They are quite equal to the wealthy in prosperous countries in the west, and rich second and third world countries. They have stacked their fortunes abroad in banks and property. I have seen poor African countries, Chad, Niger, Ghana, then called Upper Volta, Mauritania, one can see their poverty on the roads and by the lack of modern gadgets in the houses and hotels, etc. Poverty speaks as much as prosperity does. It hits one’s eyes. Then there is a gradual slide into middle class, wage earners, and still further the daily wage earners, .
The peopler who pay taxes are a small percentage of the prosperous public. What is the percentage of those who should be paying taxes compared to the small percentage of tax payers hits the eyes. Wadera or the big landlord does not pay income taxes on his huge income,, Most of them are among the super rich. They are fond of Pajeros, and big automobiles costing crores, they waste money on foreign travels, in buying chateaus in Europe. Their lavish expenditure reflects existence of huge untaxed wealth. If the tax net is widened it is possible we will not need foreign loans for budget support. One cannot go from one extreme to the other by having extortionist tax scheme which in turn gives rise to more corruption.
Some experts believe that as a rough estimate Pakistan income tax can be increased ten times compared to the present tax collection with Pakistanis paying the tax due on them and making feudals pay their taxes if agriculture tax is imposed from a certain land holding leaving peasant free of tax. But can this be done by a government/Parliament dominated by Waderas,? There is an IMF-World Bank alliance with waderas since they Are the power in this country. In India Nehru abolished the Native States and big land lords or zamindars and Talukadars. In case of Rulers of the native states they confiscated all the wealth, gold, diamonds, jewelry regalia , crowns, thrones, palaces , allowing only one palace to be kept as personal property. Here no such thing happened.. This is why India has democracy and we have plutocracy.mascrading as democracy. Even their privy purses were abolished in the seventies. While the above is a consideration of generating resources locally, there is another side also, cutting the exorbitant government spending. In my humble view easily fifty percent reduction can be made in the government expenditure without effecting any efficiency in its activities. There is tremendous feather bedding in the government. I was a high government functionary with long experience I am saying the same thing that I said as Chairman of Budget and Administration Committee of the Five Power Pact CENTO, whose budget I cut with the assistance of my Turkish colleague, Inal Yamanar, by if I recollect correctly by 45% and when the Secretary General Khalatbari claimed that this reduction will severely affect CENTO performance I promised that it would not, and so it happened. Pardon me for saying that the entire basic structure of the government both at the political leadership and service level has been jolted severely by the feather bedding. The Secretarial staff has been stuffed by personnel not that they are required but by “an agreement on mutual humoring of conflicting interests, nepotism favouritism and all kinds of subjective decisions in creating posts. Talking about bureaucracy where persons are stuffed on favoritism the number of BS 22, BS 21 etc has been bloated so much that these days grade 22 is found in every organization Once there was no Grade 22 in Police, none in AGPR, none except the Chief Secretary in the Province. The mushrooming of high ranks destroys the hierarchical balance and command structure.
Are the Ministers and Secretaries not enough to advice the President and PM in their sphere of responsibility that there have to be so many advisers to PM and President. This I also a favoritism. The size of the cabinet itself is too big. In the past in United Pakistan Q-i-A ‘s cabinet was of nine, going to Ayub Khan and later to 22 . That too was in the United Pakistan. Similarly the government expenditure is the most lavish in Pakistan’s history. That it is in the discretionary powers of the PM or President to incur an expenditure ( out of the Secret Funds implies that such use of discretionary power will be rare and in extraordinary circumstances. ZAB- that is Zulfikar Ali Bhutto- had a study prepared by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1964/65 how to live in our means after US applied sanctions and aid was cut off.
I saw the study on my return from posting in Japan in 1966 which laid down strict reduction of foreign trips, local Pak. ambassador representing Pakistan in international technical conferences etc, etc. I mentioned this in some articles but it does not seem that any notice has been taken of it. The third matter, more difficult to plug or stop is that of corruption. It eats up government income also, but destroys the fabric of society. It has gradually increased since the consumer luxury living society has come in existence and low paid government servants resorted to it in a big way. There is a cynic’s approach that “:there has been corruption in all ages” and so on , that it had existed in all societies and ages, but the epidemic of corruption whatever any cynic may say is of last couple of decades in a geometric progression. Cynics would again say it has been in Pakistan for the last 63 years. There used to be corruption in police, custom, low administration minions, but after it entered in the leadership and political leadership it became a national problem. As the Turkish saying is a fish rots from the head. Unless the political leadership is free of corruption little can be expected from the government servants. This requires leadership support to eradicate corruption. However, the other aspect is how a complain against a corrupt official is dealt. If the person is to be punished after the legal trial has proved the case against him, which will take ages, no one is put on notice that corruption will cost him his job and liberty. The corruption charges should be quickly investigated in an administrative enquiry and when it is found that there is a prima facie case against him he should be immediately suspended and then legal process may start. Our legal system is snail pace. If a corrupt official remains at his job for years and then legal proceedings come end when the official has reached his retirement age corruption will never end.
The three great leakeges in Pakistan economic system are dependence on foreign aid, corruption and lavish Government expenditure. Revolution?