‘Political uncertainty affects investment, growth’

Our Correspondent
Saturday, May 14, 2022

LAHORE: A public-friendly budget is needed. Indirect taxes should be reduced. Subsidy should be targeted instead of across the board.

These views were expressed by the panellists at Jang Economic Session on ‘Budget 2022-23 - Public expectations- political promises.

They were of the view that prevailing political uncertainty has put a question mark on the next budget about how long it will last three or six months while what caretaker government will act on the budget. The growing confusion has affected investment and economic growth which is resulting in rupee depreciation and stock market decline. In such scenario, a public-friendly budget is needed in which indirect taxes should be reduced while subsidy should be targeted to selected class instead of across the board.

The discussants were Farooq Tariq, Mehmood Ahmed, Ehsan Ch, Dr Qaias Aslam and Khalique Arshad while the session was moderated by Sikindar Lodhi. Ehsan Ch said one has to look the targets for a budget. The main objective should be economic growth while in Pakistan policies changed with the change of a govt. Pakistan needs consistent economic policies for economic growth. He said the incumbent govt was confused due to free fall of rupee and stock market. He suggested strategies keeping in view the country’s debt payment burden, increasing local and foreign investment for economic stability and discouraging unnecessary imports.

Farooq Tariq suggested that agriculture should be the first priority in the budget as food insecurity hampers progress. Problem of agricultural sector should be focused and solution to water crisis should be focused in the forthcoming budget. He asked for reducing non-development expenditure and said the state must reduce its expenditure by at least 10 percent. Friendly atmosphere with India should be created so that money spent on war should be used for people’s welfare, he said.

Mahmood Ahmad said budgets were made in isolation as no one was taken on board. Every new foreign minister put the failure on the outgoing minister while no one took responsibility for resolving problems. Foreign investment has stopped due to political uncertainty, he added.

Dr Qaias Aslam said the government should focus on practical measures to provide special assistance and privileges to the underprivileged in the federal budget and focus on expanding employment opportunities. People should be assured that next budget will not be traditional but all sectors suggestion would be considered in the budget making. It is necessary to focus on SDGs and provide employment opportunities to the educated youth so that they can play their best role in the development of the country, he said. He asked for respecting overseas Pakistanis so that they can play their role in the development of Pakistan.

Khalique Arshad stressed the need to increase exports improving the tax system. He suggested closing the markets at 7pm for energy conservation. A review of the current economic model is essential to achieve national goals, he said.