Articles and letters may be edited for the purposes of clarity and space. They are published in good faith with a view to enlightening all the stakeholders. However, the contents of these writings may not necessarily match the views of the newspaper.
There should be no doubt that making and implementing a balanced federal budget (FB) for the financial year 2021-22 is indeed an uphill task, given the financial mess this country is in.
However, we must give benefit of doubt to new incumbent Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, who unlike his predecessors Hafeez Sheikh, Ishaq Dar, Muhammad Shoaib, Mahbub-ul-Haq, Javed Burki, Shaukat Aziz etc, has all his stakes in Pakistan.
His track record has been relatively far better than many others. It can be assumed and we must pray that he succeeds to an extent that we are set on the path of recovery and economic self-reliance.
However, unless and until the State has the political will to collect taxes from every income generated above a certain minimum threshold, including those owned by foundations with tax benefits involved in commercial projects like fertilizer, sugar, power sector, banking, real estate etc.,
the expanding gap between revenues and expenditures will have its toll on our sovereignty. Taking foreign and domestic debts to fill the deficit will be our death knell.
The political executive should have the authority to withdraw perks like tax free expensive imported limousines to retired paid or elected public office holders in addition to rationalization of pension, housing etc.
Shaukat Aziz was FM from 1999-2007; Hafeez Sheikh for two terms 2010-2013 and 2019- 2021; while Shaukat Tarin held this portfolio for just 14 months in Oct 2008- Feb 2010.
The longest serving FM was Ghulam Ishaq from July 77 to March 85 who never studied economics, while Ishaq Dar served from June 2013 to July 2017 and another short span from March 31 to May12 of 2008.
Years of poor governance, excessive allocation on non-development budget, undue perks of paid civil and uniformed state employees which started from days of first extra constitutional intervention by Ayub Khan, followed by a legacy of turmoil and political chaos of Zia and Musharraf junta sowed the seeds of our economic mess.
Excessive escalation by Shaukat Aziz in salaries, pensions and post retirement benefits of the paid elite, left negligible resources for socio-economic development budget and investment on human resources such as research, education, health etc.
Recognise environmental rights of children
This has reference to the World Environment Conference being hosted by Pakistan on June 5, 2021.
Harnessing the unique opportunity, Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to ask global leadership to take concrete steps for the promotion of the environment to protect the future generation.
In this regard, PM is urged to announce policies pertaining to the protection of children and the future generation from the environmental disasters which are anticipated to affect the life of future the posterity.
Environmental damage is a pressing human rights challenge, which has an impact on children’s life. Violations of their rights resulting from environmental harm can have irreversible, lifelong and even trans-generational consequences.
Children everywhere suffer violations of their rights to life, development, health, food, water, education, culture, play and other rights because governments fail to protect the natural environment.
The impact of pollution in one place can be felt by children living far away and climate change is unquestionably a global problem.
While environmental harm affects people at any age, children are particularly vulnerable, due to their evolving physical and mental development and status within society.
Certain groups of children, including children from indigenous, low-income or other marginalized communities are often at a higher risk, which raises the question of environmental injustice.
According to the WHO estimates ‘Of the 5.9 million deaths of children under five each year, 26% are attributable to the environment’.
Air pollution alone kills 570,000 children under five every year. But these numbers are only the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ as UN Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak.
‘There is a ‘silent pandemic’ of disabilities associated with exposure to toxics and pollution during childhood, many of which will not manifest themselves for years or decades’.
This assault on children’s rights remains largely invisible while decision-makers are not held to account.
The Constitution of Pakistan enshrines and guarantees an adequate representation to all the federating units in the federal level organizations, but unfortunately, persons placed in authority never devise a pragmatic mechanism to ensure effective representation of all the federating units which is why Sindh is the only province what remains either un-represented or under–represented in various federal level ministries, divisions and other organizations.
So much so, even in the training institutes and academies, there is no adequate representation of Sindh, Balochistan and Seraiki Waseb.
The people hailing from the strongly represented provinces/regions, who control all decisions in their interest at the cost of smaller federating units and regions, must not ignore the constitutional rights of the federating units and also people from the small federating units.
Fair and proper representation of federated units especially the deprived and denied like My Jeejal Sindh in the federal organizations will definitely strengthen the federation.