‘Election budget’ unveiled

ISLAMABAD   -   As the coalition govern­ment considers calling elections later this year, an ‘election budget’ has

been unveiled ostensibly to appease the general public crushed under un­precedented inflation.

Feeling the pulse of the general public, the govern­ment announced a 35 per­cent ad hoc relief allowance for the federal government employees of scale one to 16 and 30 percent ad hoc relief to the employees of scale 17 and above. The pensions have also been in­creased by 17.50 percent. The minimum wage was raised to Rs 32000 from Rs 25000. Although the peo­ple were expecting up to 50percent raise in salaries amid the worst price hike, the 30-35percent raise too, was not an easy decision for the government due to the persistent econom­ic crises. In addition, Fi­nance Minister Ishaq Dar also said no new tax was being enforced.

The government has been awaiting a green sig­nal from the Internation­al Monetary Fund (IMF) for a fairly long time now. They are now optimistic to get the funds this month. The optimism however, has been there since the government took over in April last year with little good news to share. The IMF deal has been haunt­ing the coalition govern­ment with fears of default. Before presenting the bud­get, the government min­isters had been claiming of other options if the IMF deal is not finalised in the coming weeks. IMF still re­mains a preference.

Reports said the gov­ernment will need to sat­isfy the IMF to have any chance of securing the re­lease of more bailout mon­ey. The risk of default on sovereign debt is rising, with the economy creak­ing under twin deficits and record high inflation, which has further dent­ed the popularity of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition ahead of the vote.

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