Our fiscal Django brought us glad tidings on Thursday that he will get us new chains of our own choice from the world financial master. Vowing to put the staggering economy back on track at ‘any cost’, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan will negotiate with International Monetary Fund (IMF) on its ‘own terms’ for fresh loan package to repay the previous one and it will bear ‘no dictation’ in this regard.
Many an ignorant like me vainly wished the Lions would help us get unchained, but the knowledgeable, who know the need for keeping the sheep like us bonded, knew already that we would soon need new shackles to save us from going astray.
But I fear the well-versed too might soon be fighting over the type and kind of these chains; should they be of silver, gold or platinum? What about their colour, if they are not metallic ones: Red, Blue, Yellow, Green... ?
Wait! The wizard is too wise! As some analysts suggest that Dar has already set the tone of the budget so that we could easily re-enter into an IMF bailout programme.
For instance, the total amount of fiscal adjustments in the fiscal outlay came to Rs655 billion, or about 2.5% of GDP, higher than the 2% of GDP that the global lender had mentioned as a target during its preliminary talks with the government last year. The huge reduction in subsides for power sector is another pet peeve of the IMF. Moreover, respecting the IMF’s advice, the government is targeting to bring the deficit down from current 8.8 to 6.3 per cent by the end of next fiscal.
As for the words “at any cost”, it is understandable what does it mean. After all, every cost has to be paid by the poor and the middle classes. Don’t wink at raise in GST and don’t remind me that the last Nawaz government also resorted to it, doing it by Presidential Ordinance at that time. What? Inflated energy bills? Oh, come on! Thank them that they are, at least, promising you power supply, though you don’t deserve it.
You said: Nothing for government employees, labourers, peasants, small farmers? Haven’t you heard its people-friendly budget? Do you know more than the financial ‘experts’? If you say prices have already gone up right with the onset of budget, you probably haven’t heard the finance fixer. He told you that you have to sacrifice your present for a prosperous future. Whose future? Well, future is future whomever it may be.
And don’t fall a prey to opposition parties’ propaganda that special relief programmes are just for PML-N voters. Not all the ‘Lions’ are going to be benefited from these alms schemes, I think, because they are too much in number. And why the PPP is making a crying over the name of Income Support Fund. It should be thankful that their opponents have just dropped the word Benazir and not replaced it with ‘Nawaz’. My advice: You all better wait for the promised ‘bright and bountiful’ future – after all, you are so good at waiting.