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People-friendly budget

A common saying goes ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. Whether it’s our household expenses or the federal budget, we do not realize the importance of planning. We are tied to our archaic traditions and only lament on our misgivings in the past. If there is something appreciative, we cannot stop melodies of praise. Whether it is home, work or the government, we have a myopic view and short-sightedness rather than focusing on long-term plans.

Pakistan has always presented a deficit budget since much of its history. Every year policymakers claim to have prepared a people-friendly budget that will end inflation and bring prosperity.

However, we have never seen anyone who has expressed satisfaction over the budget and there are allegations that it was not as expected and didn’t provide any relief. Today, the economy remains in a precarious situation. If we do not act with foresight, the next generation will be unable to get out of the quagmire and no will save us from disaster.

Many Asian countries went under strict lockdown to the coronavirus pandemic. The Indian economy heralded as the third largest in the world has been decimated. Over seventy percent of Indian factories are closed due to coronavirus and Western countries shifted their orders to countries such as Pakistan who kept industries open despite the pandemic. Imagine all shops are closed in your neighbourhood but one shopkeeper remains open then all buyers will go to him. Similarly, Pakistan has been progressing by this form of ‘accidental development’.

The welfare of the public is the foremost responsibility of any government for which institutions are formed to work for the benefit of the people. Unfortunately, government employees and lawmakers have always placed their political interests in the budget. The salaries of public employees are hiked every year but no steps are taken to increase the salaries of the general workforce. They are in fact overburdened by the imposition of taxes.

Nowadays, factories are developing rapidly while the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. They have no job security and their livelihoods are not protected. The institutions built to provide welfare are not functioning and the funds are not being spent. It would be beneficial if small businesses are facilitated by lowering interest rates, reducing power prices and taxes.

India’s recent budget has exempted people aged above sixty from filing tax returns and no tax will be levied on their investments. India is our arch-rival but we keep in mind and appreciate such policies. The government of Pakistan should also formulate such people-friendly policies for public welfare. We need to fix our institutions rather than disposing them by fostering a competitive environment which can become a source of revenue. This can help reduce debts instead of imposing more burden on the people.

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