PM’s budget speech.
THE economic part of PM’s 2021 budget speech merits total review to provide relief to the public and save tax money.
EVM is politically unreliable. Public counting of paper ballots saved America from anarchy in 2020 US presidential election because deployment of Rangers on the Capitol Hill to protect US Democracy shows its severity.
Under the US Safe Act 2019, Voter Verified paper ballot has replaced paperless voting for election security.
ECP can make country’s elections 99 percent credible by using Alternate vote ballot paper allowing voters to place candidates in order of preference.
It was pointed out that PM should have given his government progress report instead of giving history lecture.
Opposition was not taken on board in budget process. The budget was dubbed as mere lay of words.
Speech showed that PM had no inkling that life is living hell for the masses in Naya Pakistan facing historic price hike, poverty and unemployment.
It was promised that there would be accountability for failed outcomes of tax-amnesty and real estate incentives.
Public has rejected PM plea to pay taxes as it is already paying 80 percent indirect taxes. Public is paying more taxes than the Scandinavians without any Tax Wedge benefits i.e. tax on wage income of single worker with no children earning a nation’s average wage.
The TW of Sweden is 43% and it includes personal income tax (13.4%), Employee Social Security Contributions (5.3%) and Employer Social Security Contributions (23.9%). In America, top four groups in income tax slab pay 87% tax whereas our rich pay only 15% income tax.
The bottom 50 percent pay 3 % (less than $43,600), 10% (less than $87,000), 16% (less than $152,000), 11% (less than $218,000), 20% (less than $540,000) and top 1% 40% (more than $540,000).
As compared to 2019 US (24.5%) tax to GDP ratio, it is in Denmark (46.3%), Norway (39.9%) and Sweden (42.8%). The rich merit being taxed more instead of jailing hapless public.
The Kissan Card will not bring desired results. The privatization of DAP, urea, and fertilizers was mega corruption done to bring down cost of production and cutting government subsidy bill.
The beneficiaries are sitting with PM and their allies now own bank(s). The government has to make its own factories for urea, fertilizer and chemicals to control.
The card is also a debt trap for small farmers by foreign qualified politicians to benefit private bankers with public funds.
Instead, government can use following steps to help small farmers, country and save trillions of rupees.
Allow farmers to make brown sugar to end corruption of sugar subsidy, sugar prices, and export-import and help control diabetes epidemic.
It will close extra sugar mills, break sugar mafia, and recover cotton belts occupied by sugar plantations.
It will save $3bn plus being spent annually on cotton import for private textile mafia pocketing profit and passing inflation to public.
It will break textile sector lobbying for Pak-India trade to make profit with cheap cotton at the cost of country’s economy, jobs and other industries.
The UK is no more a welfare state. NHS was privatized in 1979. Today more than a million patients are on the waiting list. Out of 55 PM of UK, 42 are from Oxford and Cambridge. I
t was 24th in 2018 Program for International Student Assessment and England’s math result was changed from 494 to 504 to stop criticism of the opposition.
“If you think UK isn’t corrupt you haven’t looked hard enough” (Sept 10, 2020 Guardian) shows corruption in UK.
Pandemic has shown that public healthcare systems were fast, economical and reliable. South Korea improved its public healthcare system after Ebola, which saved lives, economy and jobs.
The loss of lives, jobs and economies in the West is mega failure of for profit private healthcare system.
Russia and China have developed their own Covid-19 vaccine while the West purchased them from two private multinational companies rewarding them with $39bn profit in one year only.
Healthcare can be improved and expanded by resizing mega healthcare setups. According to the WHO (Europe) report, big private hospitals are neither cost effective nor improve patient outcome as compared to smart setups of 100-200 beds at grassroots.
By downsizing big government hospitals with Rs 10 to 20 bn budgets, they can be replicated in ten-twenty cities with Rs 1 to 2 bn budget.
It will expand quality care at grassroots, cut patient waiting time and overhead family expenses, increase healthcare jobs, end corruption and cartelization.Audit will show privatization of healthcare is costing more to state and public.
Health policies of the past three years have already increased cost of healthcare, drug prices and ended government healthcare jobs at the grassroots.
The private healthcare mafia is using Health Card and other government incentives to profit.
Government should return healthcare under public control and employ healthcare staff to give permanent jobs and quality service at a fraction of the cost charged by for profit setups.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.