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New budget old routine

New budget old routine

The new financial year has started with a new budget and old routine in the country. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has termed the budget welfare oriented and that it has been prepared with the primary aim to provide relief to the general public and boost economy. However, the time is running out for the government to take measures to implement the deficit budget. The political elite sitting on the opposite fence has been raising a mix of trifling and serious issues but is void of patience to wait for the next elections. The government has its own agenda of vested interests and the clouds of uncertainty are looming large on the skies of the country. According to the finance minister, notifications are being issued to implement various decisions and announcements which are taken at the highest levels. The Finance Division has been tasked to devise modalities for implementation of the budgetary measures, including issuance of notifications. The finance minister is continuing to make tall claims about the achievement of macroeconomic stability which is allegedly achieved by adopting strict financial discipline. The government has projected 6 percent GDP growth target for the current fiscal year.

The foreign exchange reserves are maintained on the crutches of loans which are obtained at high markup rates, the energy crisis still persist and political uncertainty, coupled with hostile measures from India, have adversely affected the progress of the economy. The pathetic part of the budget preparations, tax measures and tax collections is that all the responsibility is thrown on the shoulders of bureaucracy. The ministers only issues statements or royal decrees for the officials to do this or that without knowing anything about formation of the budget or collection strategies of taxation. As a routine matter, Mr Dar has directed the Finance Secretary to maintain financial discipline throughout the current fiscal year.

According to experts, taxes are imposed in Pakistan without measuring the consequences and this practice has made the tax collection difficult from beginning to end. Taxes are collected on the basis of decrees and without offering significant concessions to the taxpayers. Small and medium business organizations also void to come under the tax net due to fearful attitude of black sheep within the taxation authorities. It is hoped the finance minister will implement the budget in letter and spirit and will not approve any mini-budget in the coming months.