Monday, January 17, 2011

Our Fiscal Mayhem

It has been three years since democracy has returned to Pakistan and we are since reaping its fruits in the form of rising poverty level, soaring prices, rampant corruption and many hungry rich mouths to be fed. Our fiscal milieu is in utter chaos and despite changing the fiscal men at the top a number of times, the situation continues to slide down for the worse. The news is that country is almost at the brink of economic collapse.

The newspapers and media is crying out loud, along with the poor of the country, as the living is becoming harder and harder every day that passes by. It seems only two classes have been left in the country, the middle class joining the poor and the rich merging with the richer. While ordinary people or the so called “awam” for which the ruling party was once formed, are forced to cut down their daily food to almost one, those who plan the economics eat and make merry from the taxes paid by the poor. Amazingly, a number of very top officials of the government and many rich politicians do not pay a penny as income tax or a token money to still be called a tax payer, while they enjoy extravagant perks and privileges from the money collected from the poor tax payers.

Once, when the degree thing had been newly enforced, a veteran politician who himself seemed not even a matriculate commented that politics doesn’t come with degrees, it comes with generations and being in the arena where ordinary people live since politicians live and die with ordinary people. I was amazed at the logic. And was aghast when a chief minister commented that a degree was a degree whether fake or original.

Now this is our problem. When the budget is presented, almost none of those present in the house understands what the fiancé wizard is saying or what are the implications of the various hidden secrets in the budget. And thanks to their ignorance that neither they participate in the after budget speech to carry out an in-depth analysis of the budget, nor even care how it is going to impact the ordinary people out there in the streets. And so the budget is passed with overwhelming majority.

And this is this ignorance due to illiteracy that Pakistan is facing crisis after crisis and no one expect the finance minister relay knows what to do. And what the finance minster wants to do, no one lets him do it for cheap gains and voters’ popularity. The recent decision to take back the hiked petrol prices and the non imposition of the RGST is hurting the government’s financial wizards as these two decisions are hurting the economy tremendously.

While there is a need to do away with the subsidies and reform the services structure, there is also a need for the government to cut down the size of its army of ministers, ministers for state and the advisors to bring down its own expenditures. The government must show its willingness to take stock of its house and brings it into some orderly shape. The import of bullet proof cars (which in fact are no guarantee fro anyone’s life as death when comes finds its own ways of reaching to the man intended to be “transported”) needs to be halted straightaway as these very expensive cars are a big drain on the economy.

Likewise the heavy perks and privileges of the government officials be cut down and their foreign trips stopped altogether as we have a problem here for which we need to find answers indigenously and not finding these while spending a vacation abroad on people’s expense. If an ordinary person can pay tax, then why not the privileged class including the agriculturalists and big land owners? The imposition of the RGST should come later than first ensuring that everyone pays his due taxes. RGST will only add to miseries of those who pay taxes and making the non-tax payer elite class happier and richer.

I also know that writing what I am is going to be of no consequence as everyone from poor to rich and top knows the way about. But those have to take decisions have their own game plan and priorities for which even if ordinary people are sacrificed it wouldn’t hurt them at all. But like those who cannot do much than just write, I am also hopeful that may be one day these cries are heard and a way out is found, for there always is a morning after.

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