Experts termed 2018-19 budget as ‘non-conventional’ budget

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 Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Dr. Pervez Tahir, Dr. Abid Suleri and Dr. Vaqar during special seminar on Post-Budget (2018-19) organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute


Making amnesty scheme as part of finance bill was wrong decision, Ilyas Bilour

Islamabad (Monday, April 30, 2018): This year the budget 2018-19 is non-conventional as compared to the last four years budgets, where the government presented a popular budget with an eye on the upcoming general elections. There is need to understand the budget in totality and need to have informed criticism and praises of the budget. Whereas, the opposition political parties have to present their shadow budget that should give the formula to reduce the taxes rate, reduce the poverty and enhance employment opportunities. 

This was the crux of the analysis by the experts at a special seminar titled “Post Budget (2018-19) Overview and Analysis” organized by Sustainable development Policy Institute (SDPI), here on Monday.

Speaking on the occasion Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Ex-Senator, ANP and Former President FPCCI said that making amnesty scheme as part of the finance bill was wrong decision of the incumbent government. He said there should be minimum 20 percent tax rate for non-filers and tax evaders, as 5 percent tax return is very low and should not be passed.  No one has taken their white money out of Pakistan but the black money and they must be charged with high tax percentage. He added. He further said that this budget is going to increase the prices in the market and will hurt poor the most.

Later, Dr. Pervaiz Tahir, Former Chief Economist Pakistan said that the big challenge for the next governments is to sustain and build upon the growth rate of 5.78 percent amid huge fiscal and current account deficits.  “In my assessment this time Pakistan may not go to IMF to meet its development expenditures, as the government hoped to collect maximum revenues from the amnesty schemes”, he said. To roll back the populism factor from the budget would be very difficult for the next government, he added.

While criticizing the Federal Board Revenue performance, Dr Pervaiz said that the institution is beyond repair where it collects less revenue than its own expenditures. “What’s the point in having such loss-making organization”, he lamented. He said FBR is not the federal but national agency and its targets should increase the number of tax filers not revenues.

Speaking earlier Dr. Abid Qayuim Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI while covering the expenditure side of the budget said the incumbent government has presented a deficit budget with increased expenses as compared to last year. He said after spending on three non-discretionary expenditures mainly debt, defence and day to day government’s expenditures, the government may be left with least revenues and more development expenditures, which would further widen the fiscal deficit. The government may left with no choice but to go for IMF program if it failed to manage resources to finance the development expenditures till June this year, he added. Dr Abid said our GDP growth rate was not correctly captured and we need to rebase our GDP growth, where Uber, Careem,, and other dozen of services were not captured in GDP formula.

Joint Executive Director, Dr Vaqar Ahmed while commenting on the revenue side of the budget 2018-19 said it is a good sign that Pakistan’s economy has seen growth on the back of CPEC. The past two quarters have also seen an uptick in exports. He said distortions in the tax regime can be addressed through budget 2018-19. There is a need for reducing number of withholding taxes which in essence act as regressive indirect taxes and the corporate tax regime need to be simplified. This would require removing distortions created by alternate corporate tax, minimum turnover tax, super tax and advance tax, he added.

“The distortions created by customs duty laws can be corrected by merging all duties including para tariffs, additional customs duties and regulatory duties”, said Dr Vaqar adding that the effective indirect taxes faced by agriculture are still higher in comparison to peer economies. He said the fiscal policy should be formulated in a manner so that Pakistan grow without accumulating more debt, economic growth translates into exports competitiveness and growth is led by investment and not consumption expenditures.


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Why feminism is not taken seriously in Pakistan?



Karachi: Decades have swiftly passed since the first time a woman said to herself “I want to prove to the world that just because I am biologically different than a man, that doesn’t mean I’m incompetent!” Since that point of time, numerous female scholars from the past and the present have written books and published articles on the experiences of women in history, or as some say, “herstory”. If someone asked me if it has been entirely necessary for women to go around their way to voice their opinions and rights even till now, I’d say yes, but it depends on what topics are we raising our voices on.

In my opinion, women need to be heard on three matters; harassment, education, and career. Not many would agree to my limited list to which I’ve given approval to. But these three categories are much broader in reality. Harrassment, according to me, includes anything that leads to a woman feeling uncomfortable during an encounter with anyone, from staring at her from top to bottom without her consent, to manipulating her into believing that she is completely fine during harassment and that she has full consent. In matters pertaining to education, I support women who wish to pursuit higher studies in order to lead a more successful future that they have control of. Which leads me to the final category, career. If a woman has passion in earning a living by becoming an accountant, an artist, or even a hockey player, she should be free to do so as per her will. This would not strip her away of her femininity. Continue reading

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The 3Ds Dilemma- (Diabetes-Depression-Diabetic Neuropathy)

By: Dr. Muhammad Umair khan


These 3Ds ‘Diabetes, Depression and Diabetic Neuropathy’, are interlinked with one another, where Diabetes may leads to Depression, Depression may leads to Diabetes, and Diabetes may also cause Diabetic Neuropathies. Therefore, it’s a need of time to talk about 3Ds.

Do you ever notice that why people who are suffering from Diabetes have other severe disorders like Depression, Hypertension, Obesity and Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy????


Because Diabetes is a disorder which becomes the stimulus (etiology) for other disorders like Depression and Diabetic Neuropathy.

Therefore, it’s a need of time to talk about 3Ds– Diabetes, Depression and Diabetic Neuropathy.
These 3Ds are interlinked with one another that is Diabetes may leads to Depression and Depression may leads to Diabetes- through a bi-directional pathway, in the same way Diabetes may also cause Diabetic Neuropathies that is if the patient is suffering from diabetes than he/she may have more probability to suffer from comorbid conditions like Depression and Diabetic Neuropathy.

The story of 3Ds is not rare, as the pathophysiological co-morbid incidence and prevalence of diabetes- Depression and Diabetic Neuropathy is very high around the globe.

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Economic and Political Dimensions of National Security: Is Pakistan Secure?

By: Raja Taimur Hassan


“In this contemporary world, economic and political factors play more dominant role in defining and molding the national security.”

Islamabad: Of many, one of principle factors of demise of once mighty Soviet Union was widespread economic struggles triggered by massive expenditures on military and weapons, which agitated political and civil unrest in almost all the states. Before the cold war era, national security was based broadly on military dimensions (strengthen of military, number and variety of weapon etc.), while the non-military dimensions (i.e. economy and political stability etc.) played limited role.  But after cold war, world powers and allies’ countries realize the importance of non-military aspects and started rethinking the security paradigm.

It is now widely acknowledged that a country’s national security is inextricably link with economic security and political stability, where national security cannot be dealt in isolation. As economy and politics of a country affects directly lives of the people; a weak economy and difficult political situation can lead to the civil unrest and hence weaken the national security. Conversely, a bright economic outlook and political stability ensures social stability, which in turn make the country stronger on security front.

In this context a question strike to one’s mind that is Pakistan’s politics and economy stable and secure enough to tackle the challenges of national security, in the changing security paradigm? And subsequent question arises that is there any threat to Pakistan’s national security?

Our history of economic progress and political stability tells deplorable story and hence, the national security. During last 15 year, we lost more than 50 thousand innocent civilian as a front-line state in ‘war on terror’. The recent State Bank of Pakistan report revealed that total direct and indirect loss and damage to Pakistan’s economy, as a result of ‘war on terror’, is around 118.3 billion dollar from 2002 to 2016. But as compensation, Pakistan receive only 14 billion dollar through coalition support fund, which are just peanuts to such a huge loss.

Pakistan could have had avert that immense loss of economy and innocent lives, if Pakistan would have had strong on both political and economic front. However, it is important for us to know that where we are standing now?

As of today, there is much economic stirring in the country, mainly due to CPEC and low oil prices. The stock market is breaking record every day, in fact, the best performing in the region, due to political stability and improved law and order situation. Growing foreign reserves, improving growth rate, significant reduction in load-shedding and successful completion of IMF program are the other factors painting the brighter picture of the economy. On political front, apparently, civil-military ties are improving, shows military non-involvement in political affairs after 2008. We have witnessed Pakistan’s first peaceful political dispensation in 2013 and heading toward second dispensation, due in 2018.

But does that above mention facts, tantamount to economic security and political stability? My answer is No.

There are still many things to worry about. Pakistan’s majority macroeconomic indicators do not tell the blissful story of the economy, and growing strife among major political parties coupled with protests and sit-ins is pushing country toward political instability.

On Economic front, Pakistan’s export performance is on declining trend; $ 24.5 billion in 2012-13 to $ 17.9 billion in 2014 in 2014-15 (Economic Survey 2015-16). Trade deficit is widening, standing at 5.9 percent of GDP. Cost and ease of doing business in Pakistan is also not globally competitive. Worker remittances are on decline; stands at 5 % of GDP in FY 2015-16, as compared to 6.9 percent in FY 2014-15. Total level of public debt and liabilities has swollen to Rs. 22,461.9 billion, which is 75.9 percent of GDP (SBP 2015-16), and likely to worsen in the next few years. Tax-to-GDP ratio is still stands as one of the lowest in the world, stands at 10.5 percent of GDP. Except China, there is declining trend in investment flows, stands less than one percent of GDP. Unemployment is on rise, where millions of graduate are on streets to find job.

On political front, Pakistan is still struggling with political stability, owing to largely Panama scandal, and allegations of election rigging. We have witnessed 120 plus days sit-ins and protests on election riggings in 2014 and attempt of locking down the federal capital Islamabad on Panama leaks. Cyril leak, which is being linked with national security, was another dismal civil-military episode.

This gradual degradation of macroeconomic indicators and deteriorating political situation means that the present state of the economy and politics are ‘NOT’ in a position to face existential and looming security challenges. Such a development on the economic and political front breed civil unrest, social chaos, promote corruption, breakdown of law and order and absolute failure of governance, which pose serious threat to national security.

So in this situation what needs to be done?

In this contemporary world, economic and political factors play more dominant role in defining and molding the national security. Hence, for economy to thrive Pakistan needs to strengthen its economy through structural reforms in taxation system, providing business friendly environment, encouraging investments through ensuring ease of doing business, borrow prudently to prevent the growing debt level to unsustainable level and enhanced investment in human capital i.e. investing in education and health infrastructure.

For political stability, both political and military leadership of Pakistan should realize that only an economically independent and politically stable Pakistan can effectively deal with national security challenges. For that both civil and military leadership should continue to show patience and restraint for improved Islamabad-Rawalpindi ties. To ease the political tensions, political parties should refrain from politics of mudslinging and confrontation, and should strive for politically stable Pakistan.By doing so we can ensure our national security un-compromised.

The writer is the Public Policy and Political Analyst and work at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad. He tweets at @taimur__ .

The views express in this article does not represent SDPI stance on the subject.

Note: This article first appear at Express Tribune.

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Curbing the Societal Menace of Child Abuse

By:  Saad Hassan Qureshi


Children at any age are quite vulnerable to a lot of things that they experience outside their houses.

            Karachi: Most recently we had a show running on “Hum TV” by the name of “UDAARI”. It was a breakthrough drama for our entire nation as it highlighted the biggest taboo prevailing in our society, “Child Abuse”. The show faced a lot of criticism in the beginning and PEMRA had even considered banning the show because of the bold plot of the drama.  It was unacceptable for our society because this thing does exist in it yet nobody has the audacity to discuss it out in the open.

            The show only highlighted the prevalence of child abuse and the presence of pedophiles in the rural areas. What we try to avoid even after getting so much awareness and being highly educated, is the presence of this social evil in the urban areas around us as well. This is just not limited to the lower sect of our society. This is an issue that is faced by many children in today’s times and till date nobody has the mouth to discuss this major issue out in the open.

            Today in our Pakistani society as well, similar to the Western world, both the parents have to work to make ends meet.  It is most likely that we leave our kids at day care centers or with family members at home, preferably grandparents, while we attend our jobs. This social evil exists anywhere and it is our duty to protect our kids from it in any manner. Child abusers or child molesters are most commonly those people that the child knows personally because it is easier to convince them and gain their confidence if you are familiar to the kid.

            There are some major key points that one can consider in keeping their children safer from this social evil living amongst them:

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