Budget-making process: Media, civil society and MPs urged to play active role
ABDUL RASHEED AZAD
ISLAMABAD : Speakers at a seminar called upon media, civil society and parliamentary committees to play an active role in budget making process to make it effective. Speakers including MNAs, representatives of political parties, media and civil society expressed these views during a workshop titled “Launch of Practical Guide & Evaluation Workshop on Parliamentary Budget Process in Pakistan” organised by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat).
Abdul Rasheed Godil, member National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance said that Parliament has no input on the budget policy and have no practical role in the budget making. He further added that NA finance committee has no constructive role in the Budget making process.
He said that education is the only field that could change the mindset of the people and, therefore, as a nation we should invest in the field for having better budgetary output in future. He said that during the budgetary process the government should consult the scholars and other experts for their suggestions and inputs.
“We must set our own priorities instead of taking dictations from others”, Rasheed said. He emphasised on the inclusion of all ministries, civil society, NGOs, media and individuals from academia in the budget making process to obtain positive inputs. Tax rates must be increased to generate more revenue, which helps attain economic self-sufficiency, he opined.
Senior journalist Ziauddin said, “When Parliament did not exist in the country; even at that time media played an active role in highlighting problems of the masses.” “Past governments practised secrecy regarding budgetary process,” he added. He was of the view that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) usually makes overestimates during formation of budget and at the end of the year 15 to 20 percent shortfall is experienced. As soon as the budget is announced, media starts making speculations regarding it, he added. Hashim Babar, ANP representative said, “The provinces must be asked about their proposals and problems, before starting the budgetary process”.
Dr Sania Nishtar, President Heartfile, an NGO, commended Pildat for arranging the seminar Standing committees of National Assembly and Senate should mention the areas vital for the progress of the country. The government should not rely on the donors and international lenders while allocating funds for different sectors to reduce debt burden, she maintained.
Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director Pildat, said that the purpose of the workshop was to involve media, civil society and parliamentarian into the budget making process and to receive their inputs. National Assembly and Senate’s Standing Committees on Finance members must be involved in the budget making process on the basis of their past experience, he added.
Source: Business Recorder