The government looks set to present next year’s budget amid rising trepidation from the general public, with fears that the past year did not yield the positive results that were promised. Ishaq Dar and his entourage of economic experts are likely to emphasize their success in increasing the foreign reserves of the country and point to the rising value of the rupee against the dollar as an indicator of growth, but the overall economic growth of the country is still marginal at best. The economy was in a decrepit state when the new government came into power last year. This, coupled with the fiscal austerity the IMF imposed on the country as a result of granting the 6.7 billion loan, made it hard for the government to be able to show any results from the previous year. The energy crisis and whether the government will be able to make any substantial improvements to the national power grid remains Pakistan’s biggest obstacle to sustainable development, and the regime’s failure to follow its own energy policy is partially to blame for the nominal improvement in the past year.

The GDP rate of the country was 4.14%, which is higher than the previous rate of 3.7% in 2012-2013, but fell short of the government’s own benchmark set at 4.4%. An interesting turn of events came about when growth in the manufacturing sector exceeded its target of 4.5% and stood at 5.5% at the end of this fiscal year. The services sector witnessed a growth of 4.85% against the prediction of 4.5%. However, the agricultural sector made this improvement redundant because development in the country’s most important sector failed to meet the target set by the government. In the primary sector, growth in the past year stood at 2.12%, far lower than the projection of 3.8%. The potato crisis, and production below expectation in crops such as tomatoes, wheat and onions is the primary cause for this. But sugar production has been normalized once more, which shows that the shortage in the PPP government’s rule was engineered through hoarding and other illegal activities.

Next year’s budget is likely to lead to an increase in indirect taxation and increasing the burden of taxes on the salaried workforce of the country instead of bring the wealthiest of the country into the tax net. Opposition to this move might not deter the PML-N however, because of lobbying in the parliament and the government’s commitment to increase private investment in the country. But the government must ensure that the GDP per capita and job opportunities in the country increase alongside the rise in taxation if they are to avoid high levels of inflation in the coming year and work for sustainable development in the future.