- Enough is enough!
The vast majority of the people are fed up with the government’s incompetence in managing the economy. They have been tormented and harassed by the rise in prices of essential items as well as the phenomenal increase in power and gas charges. To rub salt into the wound, Prime Minister Imran Khan continues to make promises that he knows he cannot deliver on like job creation, poverty reduction and uplift of the poor in the year 2020. Many had hoped that the government would expand the tax net to make large sections of the defaulting well to-do and super rich pay their dues. What the PTI government has ended up with, is putting the major burden of indirect taxes on the common man. This has led to a steep shortfall in tax revenues. Failure to contain line losses and control corruption are behind the ever-expanding circular debt. Facing a potentially volatile situation the government had to tell the IMF that it could not impose new taxes.
The government should have reduced its expenses and used carefully the foreign exchange acquired through loans. However, instead of having a lean and mean administration the PTI went for an extra-large cabinet along with a huge contingent of ministers of state, advisers and special assistants. There are over 40 Divisions in the federal cabinet which could have been reduced through mergers. The government opted to waste dollars on the import of non-essential goods ranging from luxury cars to shampoos and foods for pets. In its debt policy statement laid before Parliament last week the government conceded committing major violations of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act by massively exceeding debt acquisition limits.
Failing to raise taxes and curb expenditures, the government is looking for non-tax revenues to help meet its target in the remaining months of the fiscal year. These include onetime gains like sales of LNG plants, telecom license renewals and privatisation proceeds. Instead of bringing the loss-generating public enterprises under the hammer first, the government is putting up for sale some of the family silver. How influential lobbies in collusion with the government are exploiting the mega-public enterprises is exposed in the report on PIA by the DG commercial audit and evaluation.