ONCE again there has been an unrealistic budget that has solely focussed on taxing the very people who already pay their taxes even when revenue thus generated does not translate into cradle-to-grave state care that is an integral component of taxation in the West. The revenue, instead, ends up financing dubious, sparsely audited projects, endless recruitment against non-productive posts, and paying for losses from smuggling and imagined energy debts.

By the looks of it, our crisis has strong causative elements of mismanagement, inadequate audit of the energy sector, and failure to curb smuggling. Had there been a visionary in power, the independent power producers (IPPs), which have been taking away billions of rupees from the exchequer for electricity not produced, and the banks and finance institutions involved in illegal activities in the currency market, would have been on the verge of nationalisation.

In essence, one big reason for Pakistan’s predicament is pressure on the government for joining international power blocks. The country’s independence is threatened by the likes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) whose emphasis has always been on continuous devaluation of currencies across the developing world.

Measures like blocking mobile phone SIMs and air travel for non-filers might lead to street unrest. A country with seven million expatriates is looking for $1 billion. This alone is indicative of ill-management and failure. What the country needs is austerity at all levels. This is precisely something that the latest budget has not talked about. Will those at the helm of affairs rectify and do the needful?

M. Shaikh
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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