The advisor to the Chief Minister Balochistna on Finance Dr. Ruqayya Saeed Hashmi presented the budget for the next financial year 2018-19 with the huge deficit of Rs61.9 billion. Except few, most of the members in the Balochistan Assembly lack the ability to completely grasp the whole purpose of the budget.
The government has allocated Rs61.9 billion for the planned development investment of Rs88.2bn for the next year. It is not uncommon that Balochistan generates a very handful amount of resources from taxes and widely rely on distribution of federal tranfers and foreign aids. It is shocking that government could not deliver to increase the income which was 4.9pc against 9.3pc estimated for 2017-18. It is most likely that Balochistan will get loan to meet the required resources to complete the development projects.
The written budget speech of advisor Ruqayya Saeed Hashmi was merely the repetition of budget speeches for the past several years. It is a normal occurrence in the Balochistan government to use the previous budget speeches and other statements—which can be seen in the newspapers. She said what previous advisor or financial ministers of Balochistan said “Balochistan government will encourage foreign and domestic investors to contribute to the local economy.
” This barely happened because foreign investors are too scared to visit Balochistan due to the “security reasons”. There are many areas in the province which are comparatively safer than other parts of Pakistan for foreigners but yet they need a special permission to visit which make it hard for outsider to even consider it.
The previous government hired an entire team of economists to improve encourage the foreign and local investments in Balochistan but its fruits yet to be seen. The provincial economy is not stable and cannot provide adequate jobs and relief to its own people. For the next fiscal year, merely 8,035 jobs were announced in education, health and law enforcement agencies which underscores the lack of planning to accommodate the newly graduated youth.
These departments entirely dependent on government’s income and are unable to contribute to the economy. In economics, they are burden on provincial economy. As a rough estimate, over 50,00 people graduates in Balochistan yearly but over 90 percent do not get jobs and are dependent on livestock, irrigation, farming or personal businesses.
The government’s inability to improve the provincial resources is bringing serious misery for the people of Balochistan where still a large population hardly afford food twice a day.
It is unfortunate that Balochistan does not have elected representatives who have the ability to enact laws and policies which can help the economy to grow.
It has always gone unnoticed when members of legislative assembly themselves admitted on the floor of the house “they are unaware what law is being enacted in the assembly”.
Though, it requires personal efforts to improve this skill but other interests always overshadowed this serious issue. During the past four years, the budget for health and education has been increased but senior officers registered complaints that they lack the ability to completely utilize the money and resources. But the performance of not a single sector whether its education, health, communication or law enforcement agencies has so far been improved.
It is ironic that a few weeks before budget was being presented, two schools were shut down in the poor neighborhoods of in provincial capital Quetta. The provincial capital is “comparatively” better than other parts of the province in terms of infrastructure and resources. The reason was the schools’ administration could not afford to pay the rent. A state-run school on rent itself has actual representation of government’s failure.
The state of healthcare is alarming too. In the most recent tragic incident, many women died during the pregnancy in Dera Bugti which is the home to Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti. The entire district does not have a gynecologist or doctor for this purpose. The list of such tragic incidents and state’s inability to fulfill its responsibilities go on.
The genuine problem of the province is it does not have educated and well trained experts who could utilize even available resources. All the members of the legislative assembly only cry when their development funds are stopped on purpose.
Those, however, get these funds still fail to develop their constituencies. It is an open secret that the development funds are often embezzled and had never been utilized for the “development purpose”. It is sad but true that if any elected member wants to seriously work to improve the economy, it will be impossible for him or her to do so because they lack the skill and expertise. It requires proper education and training, not a government officer’s mere briefing on basic economy.
These officers even use previous officers’ documents and strategies which are completely outdated. It is the time that Balochistan government and its people start seriously thinking to reshape the infrastructure of the assembly and government and assign or train people for the specific purpose to improve the economy otherwise it goes worse from bad.