Pakistan: Budgetary Trap

The exceptionally pro capitalist (2012-13) budget with large scale tax exemptions and benefits for the rich is a deceptive trap for the working classes whose blood, sweat and tears will be squeezed even more with the burgeoning crisis of Pakistani capitalism. In the recent period the masses have lost interest and suspense in the budget presentation ritual. This revulsion and distrust towards the asseverations of the ruling politicians and bureaucrats over the last period is not without a cause. Annual budgets have become a farcical exercise.

Hardly a week passes without exorbitant price hikes and other draconian economic measures that keep on inflicting insults upon injuries on the oppressed masses.  Statistics are manipulated, engineered and are played with by the elites to further their sinister exploitation and intrigues to plunder more. Mushtaq Ahmed Yousafi a former bureaucrat and a renowned humorist once said, “There are three sorts of lies; a lie, a white lie and official statistics.”  Facts are presented in such a creepy manner that distorts the stark realities of society, confuse the populace and present a hyped picture of a bleak situation.

Leaving aside the meaningless and perpetual television debates the reality of the budget and its ramifications can only be understood by examining the socioeconomic doctrines and politics of those who make and tailor it. In the last analysis every policy is made to protect and enhance the interests of the ruling classes. In Pakistan’s chequered history it was only after the revolutionary upheaval of 68-69 and the induction of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s PPP government that most radical reforms were introduced. In the budget of 1972-3 presented by Dr. Mubashar Hassan, health and education were nationalised and allocated a record 42.3percent of the budgetary spending. However without the obliteration of capitalism the economy didn’t have the capacity to sustain such radical reforms. Ever since then budgetary allocations has not gone above five percent. In the last few years these sectors in Pakistan are amongst the least allocated budgetary spending in the world. The present budget is exactly contrary to Z.A. Bhutto’s philosophy and the socialist origins of the PPP.

The largest chunk of the total expenditure goes to debt servicing. Although the original amounts of the imperialist loans have been repaid yet such is the crushing coercion that with the high rates of usury the foreign debt keeps on piling up. The next big allocation goes to the military spending. Major part of that is again reverted back to imperialist military industrial complexes that sell these gadgets of human destruction at astronomical prices to the poorest of the countries whose ruling elites get hefty kickbacks for facilitating these business deals. This means that with less than 10 percent of the revenues remaining for everything else there is no chance for any real social development. With the plunder of the state the social and physical infrastructural development is at the mercy of the World Bank, IMF Asian Development bank and other imperialist institutions. Hence further exacerbation of foreign debt which will have again to be paid with yet more loans and an even greater interest rate. The vicious cycle becomes an ever rising spiral.

The devastating impact of the world crisis of capitalism has resulted in rapid disinvestment, contraction of the markets and recession deepening. Pakistan’s exports are falling leading to unprecedented trade deficit. Along with this the current account, fiscal and budget deficits have sharply declined. Forex reserves can suddenly crash. The hue and cry about taxing the rich is a rhetorical hoax. Policies like liberalisation, restructuring and tax incentives are to prop up rates of profits as the sole incentive for investors. Liberalisation is the policy for the capitalists to extract gargantuan profits and move them anywhere they like.  Restructuring basically means the conversion of permanent employment into contract labour and the relinquishing of the health, education, union and other rights of the proletariat. Lately to enhance their profits the imperialist corporations have switched to capital intensive investment rather than labour intensive as was the case a decade ago. This would mean retrenchment of the workers from the privatised institutions and very little if any generation of jobs in the new investment if at all it comes. Paradoxically this mantra of DFI as the recipe of growth and development is being parroted by leaders of all mainstream political leaders and economic experts. This means under capitalism every regime civilian or military will have to embark on these policies. The so called national bourgeoisie is historically belated, technologically dependent, comprador in character and financially depleted. It is so debilitated that it has become essential for it to steal electricity, gas, bank loans, plunder the state and evade taxes to sustain its rates of profits.  The largest private entrepreneur in Pakistan is the Fauji Foundation a subsidiary of the army. Most politicians, generals and those at the helm of power in any capitalist regime are from these classes or their mercenaries. A state and system created to protect the interests of the ruling classes can in no way infringe upon their exploitation and plunder.

Hence the burden of this economic catastrophe has to be borne by the toiling masses. This austerity regime will only aggravate the economic catastrophe. Indirect taxation, relentless price hikes, redundancies, poverty and misery is the only destiny of the working classes under capitalism. Symbolic wage increases cannot match the runaway inflation. With the rapid depreciation of the rupee its value has reduced more than half in four years. As every passing day further deteriorates the living conditions of the masses, every tomorrow becomes an ever greater horror ravaging the lives of the people of this sad country. But the oppressed masses will not accept this tragic destiny contrived by a cruel and callous minority at the top. For their emancipation it is necessary to obliterate the blood sucking free market economics and replace it with a planned economy aimed at the fulfilment of human need. The Pakistani proletariat has glorious revolutionary traditions. A seething revolt is roiling like lava just beneath the surface. Once they recrudesce into a revolution they shall create their own destiny.