LAHROE - A big chunk of the national budget is devoured by defense expenditures (38%) and debt repayments (42%). The govt is left with not more than 5% to spend on the social sector and human right development.

These views were expressed at a consultation with Civil Society Organizations “ Public Debt-Impacts on State & Society”, organized by Institute for social and economic Justice (ISEJ) and Islamic Relief Pakistan under campaign “Unlocking the chains of debt”, here at local hotel on Thursday. Speaking on the occasion, I A Rehman, Director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said the governments in Pakistan have been addicted to foreign borrowing as to them it is easy way to fill the fiscal deficit particularly in the last three decades.

 In 1973 the national budget statement reflected Pakistan budget as surplus. The real problem is bad governance, he opined. Emphasizing on the need for financial accountability he demanded ratification of all loan contracts by the Parliament. He urged the govt. to cut unnecessary expenditures and allocate more funds for human and social development.

Abdul Khaliq, Executive Director, Institute for social & Economic Justice (ISEJ) addressing the meeting explained the background of mounting debt burden of the third world debt. Discussing Pakistan Debt situation, he said the IMF intervention in Pakistan looks similar to its program for Greece—which has deepened the recession in that country, reducing working people’s conditions to miserable levels, increasing unemployment, imposing deep wage cuts, and wiping out social programs.

Prominent political economist, Akbar Zaidi Debt, speaking on the occasion, said debt is not bad thing if it is used in transparent manner with ensured accountability, but in Pakistan successive govts; both democratic and non-democratic, have been bent upon borrowing recklessly. He said Pakistan debt situation demands critical attention as country is taking loans to repay the huge amount of interest on increasing debt.

Prof Dr. Qais Aslam said most part of the loaned money is misused and does not benefit the people, on whose name this money is contracted. Debt can be productive if used for projects to generate economic activity, but contrary to this program loans are non-productive and major cause behind mounting debt of Pakistan. Regional head SPO Salman Abid said question of debt justice is linked with patterns of governance. Besides economic issue the debt is political issue. We need to correct to political discourse to get freedom from debts. All loan contracts should be approved by the Parliament.