A budget is merely an accounting exercise, where a government lays out its expected income/revenue and expenditure for the next fiscal year. In the case of Pakistan, there are always huge expectations that this annual ritual will solve Pakistan’s numerous economic problems, particularly, that it will lower inflation and provide, what is called ‘relief’, to citizens.

Not only will this not happen since Pakistan is dominated by the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is in an IMF programme, one can also fairly easily predict what to expect. And, so it was last week.

The micro details may vary, but the broad direction was clear. Like most budgets, this is an IMF budget, with the IMF enforcing its writ over the financial year and beyond. Also, with a precarious political situation, this has made matters worse. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Nevertheless, the real burden of policy will be on inflation and the deteriorating quality of life in Pakistan. Although the budget did not say so, we know that prices will rise, especially of petrol, foodstuff and electricity. One can be sure of further deterioration in the rupee-dollar rate. We really didn’t need the budget to tell us all this.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, June 13th, 2022

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