Zardari rejects budget as anti-poor, anti-farmer

Published June 7, 2015
The former president said the budget failed to address the structural weaknesses stemming from concentration of wealth and inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities.   — Online
The former president said the budget failed to address the structural weaknesses stemming from concentration of wealth and inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has described federal budget for 2015-16 as “anti-poor and anti-farmer” and said the document is devoid even of small steps that could have taken the country closer to equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

He likened the third budget of the PML-N government to a “typical accountant’s statement” which reserved incentives for the rich but “sought to placate the poor with mere platitudes and prayers”.

“It is devoid of vision (as it has failed) to introduce tax reforms and (measures for) documenting the economy,” he observed in a statement.

Read: Opposition calls it ‘pro-rich budget’

The former president said the budget failed to address the structural weaknesses stemming from concentration of wealth and inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

“The government servants, particularly the low-paid ones, will be more than disappointed, the farmers frustrated and the working class dismayed at the insensitivity of the government towards their plight,” he said.

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted Mr Zardari as saying the government seemed to have reneged on its promise to implement the consensus reached at an all-party conference on May 28 and build the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on a priority basis.

He said the low allocation made under the Public Sector Development Programme for the western route of the corridor, which passes through underdeveloped regions of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas close to the tribal areas, and a further slashing of the final allocation for it in the CPEC project had placed a serious question mark over the government’s intentions.

“The PPP has and will continue to support the project. At the same time it believes that the government must implement the decisions of the APC in letter and spirit and jealously guard against making the CPEC project controversial,” he said.

Also read: Ishaq Dar eyes 7pc growth by tenure end

Mr Zardari was of the opinion that the government should have set aside some of the funds saved due to sharp decline in prices of petroleum products in the international markets for alleviating poverty and ameliorating the lot of peasants and workers.

He said the failure of the government to achieve economic targets set in the previous budget served to strengthen the widely-held belief that the new budget would also prove to be “tall on promises but short on delivery”.

“While the government is taking credit for not slashing the budget for Benazir Income Support Programme it has quietly shut down Waseela-i-Rozgar and Waseela-i-Haq programmes of the BISP, thus depriving the poor of any chance to develop skills and start their own small businesses,” he said.

“It is an anti-farmer budget. The farmers are agitating because of floods and non-seasonal rains but more so because of government’s apathy and failure to give good support price (for their crops) and lower tariffs for tube wells.

“Even as the budget was being presented the farmers were protesting in Punjab,” the PPP co-chairman said.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2015

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