“We, as a nation, have not been successful in mobilizing revenues,” rued Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh before introducing the government’s taxation proposals for the next financial year in his budget speech. And he counted the reasons for the sorry state of affairs – only about three million citizens pay income tax, only half of the registered corporate taxpayers file tax returns, under-invoicing and undervaluation have become a norm in our business practices and, above all, despite reforms collusion between the taxpayers and tax collectors persists. Still, he managed to give the nation “a budget that will build hope and lay the foundation of a better tomorrow.”
How the government proposes to realise that hope was spelled out in the following allocations made in the Federal Budget 2012-2013:
PresidencySince 2008-09, the expenses of the President House have increased by 74 per cent.
Despite government’s tall claims of austerity, the head of the state has continuously been increasing the Presidency’s budget for the last five years.
According to the budget documents, the expenses of the President House have been increased by 27.78 per cent to Rs616.70 million for the upcoming fiscal year compared to Rs482.63 million in the year 2011-12. However, the increase since the incumbent President took charge is exorbitant - 74 per cent.
The Presidency’s budget in 2008-09, the first presented by the incumbent government, was Rs353.84 million. During the last five years, a major jump has been seen in the expenses borne by the ‘gardens of Presidency’ as in 2008-09 it consumed Rs8.2 million, and the allocation reached Rs21.20 million in 2012-13.
Besides, the spending on the President’s tours have also gone up from Rs3.49 million to Rs5. 85 million during the last five years.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the expenditures have been earmarked at Rs482.63 million. It is noteworthy that the major chunk of the increase will go to pay the increase in the salaries of the staff.
A sum of Rs127.17 million has been set aside for salaries and other expenditures of 291 officers and staff in the Presidency. However, the salary of the President himself has been maintained at Rs1 million annually.
He has a budget of Rs3.5 million for presents and charities and Rs77.00 million for contingency grants.
PM SecretariatOut of the Rs702.8 million budget, over Rs37m will be spent on conveyance and motorcars of the Prime Minster’s Secretariat
The salaries of more than 73 gardeners at the prime minister’s estate will cost Rs18.68 million for 2012-13. Just last year, these men who maintained the lawns and plants for the prime minister’s enjoyment cost Rs13.31 million.
But the importance of these gardeners cannot be underestimated.
The hike in their salaries has increased the total budget of the Prime Minister House’s gardens from Rs14.33 million in 2011-12 to Rs19.91 million in 2012-13.
The allocation for the PM secretariat in the last budget of the incumbent government has reached Rs702.83 million, which is an increase of more than 204 per cent since the PPP-led government presented its first year’s budget in 2008-09.
Most of this money goes on salaries and upkeep of the premises.
For 2012-13, the budget for the conveyance and motorcars of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat is Rs37.36 million compared to the Rs24.63 million that was spent in the previous fiscal year.
The Prime Minister’s House has 180 domestic servants who cost Rs57.60 million to the government exchequer, while the administrative staff of 274 people costs Rs101 million.
In comparison, a miserly Rs2.9 million will be spent on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s foreign tours in 2012-13.
Ministry of InteriorThe prevailing law and order situation in the country continuously strains the budget of the ministry.
The prevailing law and order situation in the country has strained the budget of the interior ministry out of proportion, and against the allocated amount of Rs457.13 million in the fiscal year 2012-13 it incurred an expenditure of Rs1.54 billion. Due to casualties and injuries faced by the operational forces under the ministry, the grants, subsidies and loan write off reached the mark of Rs1.02 billion compared to Rs21 million in the previous budget.
Similarly, the operating expenses of the ministry increased by 53 per cent to Rs252.53 million against the stipulated amount in 2012-13.
However, for the next fiscal year, the ministry has been allocated Rs572.18 million.
As the country struggles with militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the budget for Frontier Corps KP has been increased to Rs14.33 billion from Rs11.47 billion in 2012-13 and that for FC Balochistan from Rs11.85 billion to Rs13.96 billion.
Besides, Frontier Constabulary will get Rs6.23 billion with a nominal increase of Rs605 million. As Rangers continue to play a key role in maintaining law and order in some parts of the country, their budget remains high at Rs12.60 billion with an increase of Rs1.06 billion.
The budget of the Pakistan Coast Guard has been proposed at Rs1.37 billion.
DefenceThe lion’s share of the Rs545 billion defence budget will go to the army.
The defence budget of the country has reached Rs545 billion in 2012-13 compared to Rs495 billion in the fiscal year 2011-12. However, as usual, the lion’s share of the defence budget goes to the army with Rs264.07 billion.
While Rs495 billion had been allocated for the defence forces last year, they made expenditures of Rs509.32 billion by the end of the fiscal year.