PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, when selected as his party’s parliamentary leader, in a meeting of the National Assembly party on Saturday, just before its members took oath as MNAs, said that his government would break the begging bowl. The timing was significant because he made this statement in the speech he made on the occasion which saw the completion of the last formality before he is duly elected Prime Minister by the National Assembly. It is also significant that he said this to the group of legislators whom he will have to tame if he intends to make good on this promise. He will not only have to make them pay taxes, something they did not do when in opposition, and are unlikely to be very enthusiastic about now that they have achieved office. He will also have to broaden the tax base, which is presently very narrow, and which has meant that the government has been constantly strapped for cash. For this, he needs legislators’ support and will have to end the exemptions they cherish most dearly, most notably the exemption of agricultural income from income tax.Mian Nawaz’s statement also came as a report in this newspaper indicated that the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) will not meet even its revised target, thus indicating the crisis the government will face as soon as it takes office. The original CBR target was Rs 2381billion, which has been revised downwards more than once, to its present Rs 2050 billion. To achieve this, CBR needs to collect Rs 380 billion this month, while it has averaged 152 billion a month this year. This has meant that governments have always been obliged to obtain foreign loans, and suck liquidity from the banking sector. While the former mean that lenders can impose their foreign policy agendas, the latter means that the private sector is squeezed out, and with it the chance of economic growth.Mian Nawaz does not want to break the begging bowl as a goal in itself, even though that is desirable, but so as to be able to exert national sovereignty. For that, there has to be a change in the attitude of politicians, which Mian Nawaz showed in his speech by calling on his audience not to lobby for office. As he himself said he did not want the premiership for personal benefit, and thus he does not want the pressure of having to accommodate all those MNAs on him. As Mian Nawaz said, the MNAs must be conscious that they have been chosen to serve the nation. They must realise that the time for this service is upon them, what with Mian Nawaz saying he would prefer to have stayed out of government if the PML-N had not been given such a clear mandate.