LAHORE - Pakistans federal and provincial budgets consider welfare programmes as footnotes rather than as comprehensive powerful tools to get rid of abominable poverty, which seems to have been permanent fate of at least one-third of our population. This was said by economist and PU former Vice-Chancellor Dr Rafique Ahmed while delivering a keynote address on Pre-Budget Welfare Reflection at the National College of Business Administration and Economics. Rafique said that Pakistan spent about Rs 400 billion annually on all welfare programmes taken together, which constitute only 3.2 per cent of the GDP. We talk much of pro-poor steps and measures but actually our agriculture, industrial, trade, educational and other socio-economic policies serve the interests of elitist and rich classes with the result that gaps between haves and have-nots are widening and there are signs of widespread unrest, he observed. Dr Rafique added that the current wave of agitation against loadshedding, costly transport and shortage of basic food items was a dear manifestation of the fact that we had not made Pakistan a welfare state as visualised by the Quaid, Allama lqbal and millions of Muslims, who gave their lives for our independence. He opined that Pakistans next budget should cut down all unnecessary expenditures. We should abandon IMF-based false macro-economic anti-poor policies and cut down our revenue budget to the rig of available internal resources, stopping all unnecessary official expenditures as was done by the Junejo government. He observed that all economic policies should be welfare-oriented, aimed at providing necessary income-earning technical and financial assets to have-not so that they were able to stand on their own feet. The meeting was attended by a large number of students and faculty members, including Prof AR Chaudhry and Dr Mustafa, former VC of University of Education.