Federal budget approved

DESPITE political odds and hurdles government succeeded on Tuesday in getting approval of Federal Budget for the financial year 2017-18, which also amounts to reiteration of National Assembly trust in the government. Government easily completed all legal formalities and passage of the Finance Bill gave legal cover to the budgetary proposals.
Final version of the budget is not much different from what Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had presented before the National Assembly on May 26 except some inconsequential amendments incorporated at the behest of the Senate or to please some vested interests. No doubt, the budget was widely believed to be balanced, development and welfare oriented but there was still room to improve upon the proposals to ensure maximum benefit for the people, resolution of problems of some segments of the society and also to help realise the objective of greater mobilisation of resources to meet ever-growing expenditure. In a democratic dispensation, the Opposition fulfills this responsibility during debate on budgetary proposals. The budget also evoked reaction from different stakeholders affording an opportunity to government to bring about changes if it so desire but the elected members especially those belonging to Opposition are better placed to analyse the proposals thoroughly, put forth workable recommendations and pressurise government through the force of argument to make changes. However, the Opposition missed the opportunity on flimsy ground that government was not willing to telecast their speeches live on Pakistan Television. This is despite the fact that government of Syed Khurshid Shah did not oblige the then Opposition but he was adamant to get concession from the present government. The Opposition also staged the drama of holding sessions outside Parliament House but not to speak of live coverage by private channels, it received no worthwhile coverage at all because there was no substance in their speeches. It is because of failure of the Opposition to carry out in-depth study of budget that government ignored the popular demand for more increase in salaries of government servants, which are now less than those in Sindh, and announced a negligible increase in minimum wages. Regrettably, government also did not pay heed to the justified demand of people to reduce import duty on milk as authorities obliged domestic mafia that makes people drink Urea-mixed milk as has been substantiated by Islamabad administration during recent raids.

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