Why and how budget backfires | By Prof Parvez Jamil

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Why and how budget backfires


COME any budget anytime and any where in the world, booming “budgetactics”, devised here as a first-hand term.

“Budgetactics” is an attempted tact and technique of so-called planners and technocrats to bamboozzle masses with a bull’s eye blue.

For example, crafting alarming price hike of items of daily use just before the budget, manipulating little relief to the common man in the budget and trumpeting or making a big hullabullao of announcing a public-friendly budget in many a public forum and over social, print and electronic media.

Meanwhile, the essence and objective of the budget will be exercise in futility if funds or allocations are mismanaged or misappropriated in the social sector as envisaged for such fields as health, rehabilitation, environment, sanitation, roads, parks, bridges, legal aid, education and skill development.

Whether those crafting budget or those raising hue and cry against it, there is hardly any clue what to talk of consensus on any provision or allocation to national rejuvenation through education and media by infusing positive mindsets, imparting skills in livelihood trades, masses training in health management, transforming by selflessness and self reliance towards a truly welfare society.

Amid a vicious circle of mutual leg-pulling and mud-slinging, there is hardly any time or hope for positive thinking and transforming.

As such, hardly is there any provision in the budget beyond set, standard and stereotype provisions, though important, on security, energy, health, education and public utilities but not as vital as provisions in inculcating the spirit of self help so that we can stand on our own feet as a symbol of grace, dignity and honour in the comity of nations.

History repeats itself because we do not take lessons from it. It is good to follow the good things of the West with open eyes without being blindfolded to the stark realities of our own objective conditions.

The question is whether following IMF and World Bank dictates and conditionalities has paid us anything except for the debt trap and the debt burden? This, too, would have been justified, if we had stopped the full-time and round-the-clock vicious circle of the blame game and initiated development at the grassroots level with top priority to self help as the national game changer.

How can leaders be trend-setters for the masses! An eye witness account reveals an inside story of one national budget session.

Both the PM and Leader of Opposition were seen poles apart by not tolerating the very sight of each other avoiding eye contact during this marathon session.

IMAGINE just a few days earlier both were sermonizing to the masses of mutual respect, tolerance and fellow feeling.

However, from the instantiated low lying areas to the high profile mega projects, Pakistan is a land of immense promise and potential.

The only bottlenecks to open are that of wild ego, double standards and vested interests. That means needing transformation from leadership to statesmanship.

Tough ask yet idealism achievable by replacing chicken-heartedness with a lion-hearted outlook, narrow-mindedness with a broad-minded mindset and short-sightedness with a far-sighted approach.

Here reality check unfolds that consciously or sub-consciously, knowingly or unknowingly, convincingly or unconvincingly children emulate parents, students are influenced by teachers, disciples learn and copy clergy and the masses follow leaders. As you sow so shall you reap in all walks of life.

Coming to question of the budget in emulation, it is in the fitness of things if children are trained in, accustomed to and acclimatize with honesty and fair-play alongside simple and easy ways and means of managing pocket money as future architects of the nation towards a better and brighter Pakistan.

—The writer contributes to media on national and international affairs.