This federal budget, like those presented over past two decades, is the perfect recipe for decreasing investment in employment generating industries, an ever widening gap between revenues generated and liabilities to a level that this country is drifting to insolvency.

While delivering the federal budget in the NA, our Finance Minister talked about model of Medina Welfare State (MWS). What he forgot was that in the MWS concept, the requirement for public office including head of state was unquestioned integrity, no conflicts of interest, transparency and strict accountability and auditing of every paisa spent from national exchequer. Rulers and public office holders in MWS never indulged in affluence on state’s expense and the priority was always welfare of the most deprived sections of society, and not welfare of affluent and powerful sections of society, nor was there any tax amnesty schemes or allotment of state lands for them.

The ever-rising debt to GDP ratio and deficit between revenue generated from direct taxation on income vis a vis expenditure along-with poor fiscal management pose the biggest threat to state sovereignty. Unchecked corruption, abuse of power and lack of accountability serve as fuel to drive the engine of terrorism and extremism in a country where the state has no motivation to invest in education, health and even provide basic items like clean drinking water to vast majority of population. Almost 90% of indirect taxes are raised on consumption of consumer items, utilities, banking transactions etc. and only 10% on income. Uniform levy of indirect taxation from the poorest to the richest has led to high inflation.

In such an environment it is but natural for traders and businessmen to shut down their industries and instead invest in real estate and construction of shopping malls, plazas and land development schemes where profits are phenomenal and taxes levied on sale are calculated at less than 10% of market value. The conflicts of interest of the powerful segment of paid civil and uniformed bureaucracy who are beneficiaries of multiple allotments of prime real estate and the nexus between political elite and land mafia of this country are biggest hurdle to our economic revival.

ALI MALIK TARIQ,

Lahore, May 27.