Pakistan’s existing policy
frameworks contain a number of exceptional goals and objectives, including an
improved quality of education, the elimination of all types of disparities
imbalances, and significantly improved enrolment rates. However in current policy
structure, Pakistan is long away from achieving this vision.
The vision document has positioned
human resource development at the top of national agenda by capitalizing on
existing social capital, strengthening it and improving the human skill base of
the population to optimally contribute to and effectively benefit from economic
But unfortunately, like previous
budgets, an analysis of current year federal budget reveals how the wellbeing
of citizens has been ignored by allocating more than 18 percent of national
budget to defense. Even in today’s world of knowledge based societies our
allocation for health and education are shamefully lowest in the region.
According to federal budget document
2014-15, the education and health sectors have once again failed to receive
their due share in the present budget. An amount of Rs 74.031 billion has been
allocated to both sectors registering an increase of only 1.5 percent as
compared to the previous year which pales into insignificance if population
growth and inflation hovering around 9 percent are adjusted.
Of total amount of Rs 74 billion, a
paltry sum earmarked for education, only 13.5 percent goes to the health sector
indicating the authorities’ myopic vision of reforming health sector.
In addition to this, the financial
bill for the year 2014-15 has once again shattered hopes and dreams of the
poor. This bill consists of ambitious development schemes such as metro buses
services, metro trains, and motorway from Karachi to Lahore. The dilemma of the
government is the result of poor planning, inaccurate distribution of funds,
for instance, the building of metro buses rather than hospitals and schools.
In the PSDP for 2014-15 major
investment is envisaged in energy sector, followed by transport and
communications. Out of total 1175 billion, only 12.5 billion have allocated for
achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MGDs).
While on the other hand, under
pillar one of Vision 2025 government promises that a larger share of the GDP,
at least 4pc to education and at least 3pc to health, would have to be allotted
to achieve universal primary education with 100pc net primary enrolment,
increase higher education coverage from 7pc to 12pc and increase proportion of
population with access to improved sanitation from 38pc to 90pc.
Looking into all these facts, the
current resource allocations by government do not shows any political will to
priorities human development to achieve the goals and objectives of Vision
2025. In its current shape Pakistan is the embodiment of a security state where
human development barely attracts attention.
On the whole, the budget is far from
‘poor-friendly’ and presents claims completely divorced from reality. The myth
of macro-stabilization and its consequent trickle-down affects has shattered
and the lot of the poor has not changed. The misplaced priorities coupled with
shotgun approach to allocations will worsen the economic crisis confronting the
country in coming years.
At this critical juncture Government
of Pakistan needs to stabilize the economy, rebuild severally eroded
credibility, close the fiscal deficit, re-establish confidence in public
institutions and improve the investment climate. In parallel with its macroeconomic
stabilization program the government needs to develop a comprehensive program
of structural reforms as a part of vision 2025.
Pakistan must respond to such
challenges effectively, since all nations now aspire to become knowledge
economies. This calls for change in mindset incorporating a quest for
excellence, so that Pakistan can redefine and transform its institutions and
structures of the state, as well as national policies, strategic priorities and
long term bench marks within the overarching for Pakistan in 2025.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.