The lawmakers during the debate on the budgetary proposals for the year 2015-16 have declared the budget as anti-poor. while the government claims that it’s policy is the continuation of the policy which has bought about economic growth, both arguments need to be assessed. The government has evidently shied away from increase the direct taxes. The increase in the sales tax, an indirect tax, is going to further squeeze the purchasing power of the lower income groups. The meager increase of 7.5 percent in the salaries of the government employees is not going to give them any relief in the backdrop of hike in prices coupled with increase in the cost of electricity.

The claim of increase in the growth rate from 4.0 percent to 4.24 percent also seems void as it has been derived from the growth in the services sector only. The agriculture sector has shown a scanty increase of 0.2 percent only while the manufacturing sector has slowed down from 4.5 percent to 3.6 percent. The banking sector, a subsector of the services sector is booming by lending big monies to the government and earning record profits. The slight growth in the agriculture sector has been due to increase in the livestock, large quantities of cotton being ginned and from considerable expansion of general government services. Large scale manufacturing along with power and gas sector has slowed down whereas construction and small scale manufacturing have barely kept the pace of the previous year. t.

Thus closer look at the budget clearly reveals that we are once again relying upon the economic figures of a bubble economy where the widespread consumerism is being claimed as development. The situation is almost a replica of Musharraf era economy which used to reflect high growth rates drawn from services sector when the banks were extending loans to the common people to buy refrigerators and air conditioners resulting into undue burdening of the energy resources.

The live coverage of the budget debate by the electronic media is however an encouraging aspect of the whole exercise. The electorate will now have an opportunity to evaluate the performance of its representatives particularly with reference to their seriousness in highlighting their problems. In this regard, the treasury benches will feel the heat of the moment as there is no tradition of opposing the party viewpoint on the floor of the house in our political culture.