All fur coat and no knickers
WE are very lucky to have witnessed 75th Independence Day of Pakistan and especially as the Covid restrictions have been lifted off there were lots of events for the celebrations of this auspicious occasion.
I attended one such event on 14th August the overall aura was very festive and jovial, while listening to a mili naghma one stanza really caught my attention.
“Tere Dum Say Shan humari, Tujh say naam humara”
There were times in the early 1960s where Pakistan was poised to become an Asian tiger.
But alas, the war of 1965 preceded by blunder of 1971 and then internal political issues further added to the misery.
At present, we have a large amount of debts, we may have healthy surplus but the reality is that Pak Rupee is getting weak day by day because we do not have enough resources to fulfil our expenses.
Pakistan has lost its position on many important forums, and absolutely nonexistent lobbying to overcome international challenges.
Our forefathers have really struggled hard to get us the freedom but, it looks like the main ideology and the golden words of our founder; Unity, Faith and Discipline, have been lost somewhere while we were busy having a tug of war for Power and Money.
As, a result Pakistan is going through a difficult phase on economic ally, international affairs and domestic front as well as it’s been put on Grey and Red list on the barometer of Societal norms.
Not long ago our budget for 2021-2022 was approved which was very extravagant and was largely praised by people from different walks of life, having been different from the previous two budgets.
PTI-led budget focused more on austerity measures, where they relied heavily on spending cuts and increasing taxes.
But this time, there were some tax relief and increments in salaries. But, according to critics, budget is none other than a sugar coated pill.
The recent budget is criticized largely due to the fact that Government of Pakistan has proposed these increments without having enough means for it.
The revenue collection target has been set at Rs.5.83 trillion for the upcoming fiscal year 2022 which is less than the IMF recommendations of Rs6 trillion.
Our burgeoning debt has crossed $116 Million and there are absolutely no productive projects put in place to generate revenue.
The government spending will increase to Rs8.497tr from 7.341tr, an increase of 15 percent in the fiscal year 2021-2022.
We are now at a point where we have lost all negotiation power as we are liable for enormous amount of repayments and still we haven’t catered that in our budget, we have gigantic amount of circular debt and our policies in power sector are not efficient either.
So how are we going to accomplish our obligations? There are some strict IMF rules that have to be followed under this package and those issues haven’t been addressed in the approved budget.
Unemployment is on rise, exports have decreased and the only reliant and increasing source of income for Pakistan is remittances.
So Government of Pakistan needs to ensure that they use this source prudently and encourage lucrative projects with proper administration.
Recently, we have witnessed a couple of scandals in power, sugar, pharmaceuticals and a few other sectors but unfortunately, none of them has been charged or any money recovered from them. So projects without any accountability mechanisms wouldn’t serve the purpose.
To regain our respect, Pakistan has to promote foreign tourism; the law and order situation ought to be resolved. Education, politeness and professionalism should be ubiquitous.
Government officials have a duty to serve the public and they have to be devoid of pomp and circumstance. The protocol culture must be eradicated.
Public service should be a model of efficiency. The economy should open with minimum and uniform tariffs.
We have to bring a change in ourselves, in our attitude only then we can face these toughest challenges and above all we have to think of our nation before, our own selves. So that next time when we present a budget people wouldn’t say; “All fur coat and no knickers”.
—The writer is a contributing columnist, based in London.