Budget Discussions – 2010-11

The budget debates varies from one pole to another with not many parliamentarians talking about ways and means they can effectively come up with plans to manage the fiscal problems. The opposition focuses on “Hukmaran apni ayyashi band Karen” while the government talks about “balanced budget”. In the middle, someone starts a topic of Kalabagh Dam. With Kalabagh Dam, heart rules over mind and a lot of time is wasted on the floor of the house giving our media the chance to poach this opportunity to make fun of Parliament and democracy.

Till now majority of the participants have talked about “reducing expenditure” or termed “salary increase not sufficient”. Only a few have talked about bringing in Financial Discipline in State Owned Enterprises. Jahangir Tarin clarified in his budget speech that Agricultural Tax is very much there but it is not collected efficiently. He also stressed on adding more businesses to tax net like shopkeepers and traders. Similarly, Pervez Malik of PML-N demanded that more businesses be added to the tax net. Another interesting observation was by the Finance Minister that Electricity expenses for FATA are costing the government a substantial amount.

PPP’s MNA and Information Secretary, Fauzia Wahab has made a suggestion (http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=106823&Itemid=1) that the House agrees on demanding Pakistan’s foreign debt write off. She has suggested that as Pakistan is a frontline state in the war on terrorism, we must stress on getting our debt with the Paris Club, Bilateral Loans with sovereign countries and Islamic Development Bank loans worth close to USD 18 billion   be written off to give the government savings of Rs 400 billion over a period next three years. She has also suggested that by getting relief, we can also commit that there will be a freeze on expenditure, which can potentially double the savings from the debt servicing. The money saved, can be used in reducing our fiscal deficit and also allow increase in the PSDP. Another important point she made was that the PPP will not be in power forever, with some other party leading the government in future. By working together and demanding our debt write off in lieu of our being a front line state, future governments will stand to benefit.