Every government, be it the federal or provincial, tries its level best to allocate maximum possible funds for accelerating the process of developmental activities by launching projects, programmes and introducing initiatives for the welfare and well-being of the people as well as providing as much relief as possible to different segments of the society throughout the country.

Before going any further to highlight relief measures taken by the federal government in the new federal budget which has already come into force from July 1, 2017, it is important to remember that no federal budget is all good nor entirely bad as such. Opposition parties, their leaders and parliamentarians have the democratic right to criticise the government’s priorities and allocation of funds for different sectors and not solving the problems of the people. But it is rather strange that in doing so, opposition leaders and their parliamentarians do not find even one single thing to appreciate.

Pakistan is facing a host of threats and problems internally and externally which are aiming to harm and undermine its ideological and territorial frontiers; threats to its security, solidarity and national unity posed by terrorists, militants and extremists.

The country has been engaged in the war against terror for a number of years and brave, courageous and chivalrous officers and jawans of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, police and security-related agencies are offering great sacrifices in fighting and eliminating terrorists, militants and extremists from the sacred soil of Pakistan. They are laying down their lives to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful country for us now and for generations to come. In the war against terror, more than 25 thousand officers and jawans of all defence and security-related forces and agencies have already laid down their lives and many more than these have been rendered physically handicapped and crippled.

No compensation whatsoever is too great and adequate for their great sacrifices. But still, the federal government is trying to provide as much relief as possible to their families. To look after the families of the martyred officers and jawans is not only the prime duty of the federal government, it is also obligatory on the entire nation, which will remain in debt forever for their great sacrifices.

A number of relief measures have also been introduced by the government for them as well as other segments of society. Before these measures are briefly touched upon, it may be mentioned here that during the discussion on the new federal budget in the National Assembly or outside, the opposition leaders and their parliamentarians had not bothered even to say that the relief measures for the families of martyrs taken in the budget are good and the government should be doing much more for them.

Relief measures are listed below briefly, with the sincere hope that these will be appreciated by opposition leaders and their parliamentarians with suggestions for the government to improve on this.

The salary of all officers and jawans has been increased by 10 percent as a special allowance. In the budget speech in June 2016, three allowances were merged. However, the ad hoc relief allowance to the army in 2008 and the ad hoc relief allowance for civilians in 2010 were not merged. Now, a 10 percent ad hoc allowance on the merged salary of all civil and armed forces employees has been given.

Pensions of retired government servants has been increased by 10 percent. It is appropriate to suggest here that while announcing ad hoc relief for serving public servants with the budget every year, the same should be announced for retired employees at double rate of that ratio, if not more.

Government employees up to basic pay scale-5 have been exempted from paying house rent charges at the rate of 5 percent which were deducted from their salaries. Daily allowance-domestic, has been raised by as much as 60 percent. Orderly allowance has also been revised from Rs12000 to Rs14000.

The rate for transportation of dead bodies and local burial has also been revised from Rs1600 to Rs4800 and from Rs5000 to Rs15000 respectively.

Constant attendant allowance, admissible to the Armed Forces and the Civil Armed Forces, has also been more than doubled from Rs3000 to Rs7000.

Different allowances for officers and sailors of Pakistan Navy including hard-lying pay, compensation for batman, uniform allowance and ration allowance have been increased appropriately. Design allowance has also been increased by 50 percent.

The jawans of the Frontier Constabulary perform duties all over Pakistan. In order to make their salary structure attractive, they will now be paid a fixed allowance of Rs8000 per month. However, this will be allowed in a phased manner. Accordingly, one-third of the new allowance has been allowed retrospectively from March 1, 2017, one-third is going to be allowed from July 1, 2017 and the final third will be given one year later with effect from July 1, 2018.

On the pattern of increase in the pay of government servants, minimum wages of labour for their benefit has also been raised from Rs14000 to Rs15000 per month.

New initiatives undertaken by the federal government for the welfare of different segments of society are also quite appreciable. Welfare schemes are being introduced by the Central Directorate of National Savings, on the direction of the incumbent federal government, for the families of the Shuhdah (martyrs) as well as disabled persons, under which preferred profits will be offered to them. The schemes are in the initial stages of being processed and details of these are expected to be announced in due course.

Loans payable by widows are to be written off for up to Rs500000 by the House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC). Furthermore, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Islamabad is to provide plots to Overseas Pakistanis on non-convertible bonds in an exclusive sector to be earmarked for this purpose.

The Beneficiary Graduation Programme has also been introduced under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) under which, grants will be provided to willing self-employed individuals. In the first phase, 250,000 families will be provided with a Rs50000 grant per family.

Good things, in all fairness, should honestly, sincerely and faithfully be appreciated by one and all, no matter which government is responsible. After all, beneficiaries of these welfare and relief measures are none else but the people of our beloved motherland Pakistan.