It has not been a good financial year. The coronavirus epidemic has taken a large toll on the economy, not only with the lockdown and the drop in consumer purchasing power, but also with regards to the funds that the government has had to allocate to combat the pandemic.

Perhaps even more disastrously, the swarm of locust attacking crops in the country has posed a great threat to the economy. Moreover, Pakistan’s debt is the highest that it has been in years. This leaves the government with little space to make any substantial breakthroughs for the new financial year.

Therefore, the federal budget for 2020 should be assessed with these considerations in mind. For the reality the country is experiencing currently, the government seems to have produced a satisfactory budget. To provide relief to the public, who have long been suffering due to increasing inflation, there is no new tax in the 2020-21 budget. There will be no tax on coronavirus and cancer diagnosis kits, and import tax on children’s food supplements and diet food has been abolished too. However, a disadvantage with that is that the government has decided not to increase the salaries and pensions of government servants – a development which will have an inimical impact on all wages.

MUHAMMAD NASIR,

Hangu.