FEDERAL BUDGET 2008 AND 09

KHAWAJA AMJAD SAEED
July 07 - 13, 2008

PRELUDE

Presentation of Federal Budget on annual basis is a regular ritual. Before its presentation, it raises hopes amongst stakeholders. Salaried class expects a rise in their salaries to combat the impact of inflation. Business community usually expects incentives and rebates/concessions in taxes. Poverty stricken people expect poverty alleviation, is not poverty elimination.

Unemployed ones want job openings. People involved in agriculture, industry and services sectors expect that Federal Government will announce supportive and favorable polices to keep the economic wheel moving to ensure not only economic development but also social justice. If the systems are strong, the above dream has high probability of success. Alternately the above dream remains uncrystallized resulting in social upheavals and utter frustration. Constitution of a country is an agreement to live together. We hope that all stakeholders register this message in their mind and manifest positive behavior accordingly. However this question has been haunting the minds of patriotic citizens of Pakistan and they have a great and sincere desire to see the implementation of the real spirit for which Pakistan was born on August 14, 1947 as visualized by the thinker of Pakistan, Allama Mohammad Iqbal, and father of Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

CONSTITUTION & BUDGET

No Finance Minister has ever quoted what is expected by 1973 Constitution of Pakistan to be reflected in the annual federal budget. We wonder how many thoroughly read the provisions affecting the spirit in which, meeting the aspirations of People, the budget should be prepared.

This piece will only focus on the vital Articles governing socio-economic conditions and the art and craft of preparing federal budget.

SPECIFIC ARTICLES OF THE 1973 CONSTITUTION OF PAKISTAN

The above Constitution was developed through consensus. It should have been given a fair opportunity to be implemented. Unfortunately rather than implementing it in its real spirit, it has been changed/amended so many time. This piece does not offer an analysis in this respect and it is left to parliamentarians and others to carry out an in-depth analysis. However this piece looks at the following important Articles of the above Constitution which deal with socio-economic conditions of the inhabitants of Pakistan:

ARTICLE

THEME

3

Elimination of exploitation.

18

Freedom of trade, business or profession.

37

Promotion of social justice and eradication of social evils.

38

Promotion of social and economic Well Being of the People.

Each of the above Article has been reviewed now in terms of the requirements for implementation and their real impact.

ARTICLE -3: ELIMINATION EXPLOITATION

A serious home work is needed to be undertaken through narrowing the gap between haves and have nots Unfortunately, since the establishment of Pakistan, no attention has been given to this critical area. The enriched class do not seem to bother about their social responsibility of sharing their wealth with other stakeholders of the country. Fiscal policies have been ineffective to provide cushion to solve the above problems. We hope that current democratic Government of Pakistan will give total support to Federal Board of Revenue and help develop an equitable system of taxation whereby through progressive taxation and implementing the spirit of Canons of Taxation by Adam Smith will develop a fiscal policy geared to the achievement of above goal.

In this respect, there is a crying need to develop a socio-economic system based on the true spirit of clarions call of the father of Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah . On July 01, 1948, while inaugurating State Bank of Pakistan he said ;

"In achieving our goal of creating a happy and contended people, we must work our destiny in our own way and present to the world an economic system based on the true Islamic concepts and equity of manhood and social justice".

We tried capitalism, later switched to socialism, then moved to mixed economy and are now talking about P3 (Public Private Partnership). We are in search of an economic system. A right direction will be to implement the guidelines provided by the father of the Nation who is often quoted by our top leadership for implementation of his thoughts.

ARTICLE-18: FREEDOM OF TRADE, BUSINESS OR PROFESSION

It is unfortunate that after the 1973 Constitution which ensures freedom of trade, business or profession, massive nationalization took place relating to trade, business and industrial activities. In the area of insurance, everybody was denied to setup Insurance Companies in Private Sector. The opportunity to undertake this business in Pakistan, was restricted and later Banking sector was also nationalized. Therefore, orders by the then Government were against the spirit of above Article. This resulted into big frustration in the business community and this unfortunate position still continues in Pakistan as the hitherto process of nationalization set up has not been totally reversed. It is high time that the Government should be in the business of Government. She should be totally committed to the defence of Pakistan and ensure its internal and external stability in terms of law and order situation so that incentives do exist to attract foreign investment to motivate her expatriates to bring their money from abroad for investment in the country and also offer tangible support to business community in Pakistan to benefit from the spirit of the above Article. Pakistan needs to be turned into new phase of her life namely, competitive Pakistan to serve her role in the comity of the Nations in global world. This dream needs to be crystallized in reality. The sooner this is done the better.

ARTICLE-37: PROMOTION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ERADICATION OF SOCIAL EVILS

Action Plan to eradicate social evils is the crying need of today. Criminals should be brought to books, hoarders should be given the due punishment which they deserve including confiscation of their properties and hoarded stuff (agricultural & industrial etc.)

Stern punishment needs to be inflicted on robbers and dacoits of all types. This challenge, it is hoped, will be met by the current democratic set up in Pakistan. The challenge with Planning Commission, Provincial, District and TMA Governments is to accelerate socio-economic development with social justice, failing which social destabilization will continue to wreck the country and weaken its foundation.

ARTICLE-38: PROMOTION OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE

A research is being initiated by the writer on developing the true meaning of "WellBeing". It has two dimensions namely; economic and social. An action plan is required by all stakeholders in particular and by various levels of Government in general to eradicate poverty, promote employment and guarantee the atmosphere in which soul and body of in Pakistan can be kept together.

Mere hopes through announcement that basic needs will be met is not likely to solve the problems. With this hope and lip service, six decades of Pakistan have already been wasted without ensuring implementation of the true spirit of well-being of the people. The sooner this is done the better it will be. This expectation is rising day by day from the current democratic set up and it must meet this challenge.