ISLAMABAD Eminent economists Saturday rejected the tall claims made by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh that the budget 2011-2012 offers special relief to the commoners. In background discussions and interviews, a number of economists dismissed the notion that the budget offers anything special to the masses. They were of the view that except a 15% raise in the salaries of the government employees, there is no relief in the budget. I do not think the budget offers any special relief measures to mitigate the miseries of the poor at large, said economist Dr Zafar Moeen Nasir from the Policy Institute for Development Economics (PID), Islamabad. He said the government has allocated Rs 50 billion for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), but as the programme has been criticised for poor disbursement of money in the past, it is too early to comment on the allocation. He said the Sales Tax concessions hardly amount to relief for the poor. Another economist, requesting not to be named, said that there was nothing in the budget such as an employment programme or at least a plan in this regard. He was of the view that since there was no special package in the budget for investment, there would be no employment opportunities in the near future. As regards foreign investment, he said it would not be possible as long as security and energy situation in the country remains fragile. Revival of the national economy would be possible in two to three years when the security situation stabilises. On discrepancies in budget figures, another economist said the governments management team confused the people on deficit and revenue targets. He feared the budget deficit, which documents estimated at 4 percent of the GDP, would go beyond 5 percent. Similarly, he noted that GDP growth has been projected at 4.5 percent, but it was too ambitious.