daily times

January 18, 2008

The government, facing a shortfall in revenues, is reported to be considering a cut in the development budget. As usual, the health and education sectors will take a hit. It is our bad luck that every successive government has assigned low priority to the education and health sectors, and the results are there for all to see. These sectors don’t have to suffer: expenditure can be cut from other areas, especially the perks awarded to legislators and senior bureaucrats. Such expenditure, predictably, has increased. This is yet further proof that the Government of Pakistan has not been careful in planning for the various needs of the country.Take, as another example, the energy crisis currently facing the country. Why has the government not done anything to reduce energy consumption? Huge petrol-guzzling cars continue to be imported in increasing quantities. Marriage halls continue to operate till two in the night, consuming imported oil that is getting more expensive by the day. If the government does not force businesses to close by 9 pm and marriage halls by 11 pm, the crisis will only get worse as we continue to import and distribute fuel with unsustainable subsidies.And as for the decreasing revenues, perhaps legislators from areas famous for huge markets selling smuggled goods could ensure payment of taxes. Such a move in Peshawar alone could fetch billions of rupees a year. But there is little hope that these smugglers will be dealt with, considering the ease with which sugar barons and wheat hoarders have dodged punishment.