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Opposition & budget

May 06, 2018

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IN your editorial ‘Budgeting on hope’ (April 28), you highlighted discord over budget 2018-19 proposals. You are right. The government had to ‘bend over backwards to as many special interests as it possibly can’.

As usual, the opposition came up with no alternative budget. They could have put up an alternative budget, or, at least a sectorial/ circular diagram (in per cent) to better balance constraints of security and welfare.

Parties without alternative budgets are minds without ideas. Defence Demands for Grants carry one-line lump-sum outlay for the three services. The defence secretaries have publicly said that they would provide any details that parliament wants.

But they never asked for it, as they have no acumen to understand the figures. In case our lawmakers feel handicapped in understanding the intricacies of defence budgeting in the context of the internal and external security situation, our ministry of defence may arrange a briefing for them.

The demands for grant are still to be put to vote. The common man will wait with wistful eyes what our opposition provides for by way of basic rights (education, healthcare and shelter) in an alternative budget.

Why can’t the opposition demand and budget for a merger of variegated hospitals and educational systems (civil and military) into one national health and education service?

Historically, a common feature of all strong states had been that they had strong military and civil institutions, a de jure capability to defend their territory and policies that favoured the citizenry rather than dominant classes (mafias) like feudal lords and industrial robber barons.

Let us see how our vociferous opposition strikes a balance between constraints of security and welfare in an alternative budget.

A.J. Malik

Rawalpindi

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2018