Provincial budget 2009-2010
By Ahmad Mushtaque, Sindh
Note: Write up was written two weeks before the budget was announced on June 15.
The elected government of Pakistan Peoples Party is going to present its second budget for fiscal year 2009-10 in a week or so time, provincial budgets are not authorized to make economic policies for taxation and monitory policies are centralized in Pakistan. For over 85% financial resources, provinces depend on federal transfers, shares from divisible pool and grants. This fiscal structure in spirit is negation of federal system of governance. Provinces are been turned into post offices to distribute salaries and transfer funds to local governments. Successive military governments have rendered provinces irrelevant in making development planning and building capacity to generate resources.
The first fiscal year of ruling PPP-led coalition is coming to an end, since elections were held last year in February and government formation took some time, PPP government did not have much time to come up with much planning and new projects for uplifting socio-economic conditions of impoverished Sindh. But for upcoming new fiscal year 2009-2010 PPP government had much time to address some of the critical and long standing problems of the people. It seems PPP government does not have long term planning for the province. A year has gone, they have three more years to accomplish and leave a mark. Lot of things PPP could have done prior to this budget, I remember when PPP was in opposition they used to host and organized ‘shadowy budget seminars’ discussing development agenda, raising up financial woes of the provinces, but now when they are in government, they are not doing such exercise, budget making is left to bureaucrats, civil society, academia, economists and many scholars, intellectuals and concerned citizens of this province who live abroad, could have contributed greatly in making the budget productive tool for long term planning.
PPP government has made no difference than previous governments which civil Society and political actors in Sindh believed were imposed on people of Sindh by undemocratic establishment. Can one expect from this government to publish a report of its achievements in one year, a provincial survey of economy, development profile of districts, needs and targets and get involved a good number of credible civil society organizations, including NGOs, who are better informed and concerned about socio-economic needs of people. Why can’t we be ready for a paradigm shift in terms of budget making, let informed citizens have a say, listen them what recommendations they have.
NGOs, civic bodies and individuals who are engaged in research and field trips and works in various areas of rural Sindh are better equipped in terms of knowledge and needs of these areas, they can be of real valuable help in making development plans in Tharparkar, Badin and Thatta districts where people are poor, deprived of clean drinking water, even access to water, health facilities and schools while to not to mention drainage and sanitation schemes.
Inaction on part of government, with little investment, is letting these people live a deprived of improvement, people probably do not have dreams now for a better life and progress, a vast human resources is allowed to perish in poverty. Our successive governments have time and again shown, ‘we do not care’, ministers and bureaucratic elite is more concerned and consumed with power, obsessed with their own being.
In Sindh, budget making process largely seems to be work of Finance department and bureaucratic machinery, which is inept and insensitive to issues that people confront.