ISLAMABAD: Parliament’s most important responsibility is to scrutinise, pass and oversee the spending of the budget while it is the government’s job to prepare the budget.
Without creating a balance in these constitutional roles, public representatives will remain outside the loop of crucial policy making on budget.
The amendment approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Rules must be passed by the House urgently to allow committees to effectively scrutinise departmental budget in detail.
These views were expressed by various speakers and analysts at the briefing session organised by Pildat today on Understanding Budget 2012-2013 ahead of the budget debate beginning in the two houses of Parliament today.
Mir Aamir Ali Magsi, MNA chaired the session while the key speakers included Mr. Nohman Ishtiaq, Financial Expert, Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Shahzad Chaudhry, Defence analyst, Ms. Anjum Ibrahim, Resident Editor, Business Recorder and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, Pildat addressed the participants at the session.
Delivering his key-note presentation, Nohman Ishtiaq discussed in detail the parameters of the federal budget. Presenting a detailed overview of the Federal Budget 2012-2013, he said that it is important to keep in view the economic, political, and defence-related context of the country in mind.
Speaking on the occasion, Anjum Ibrahim said that while in the UK, the coalition government consulted its coalition partners while making the budget, Pakistan’s government did not consult its coalition partners including the ANP, MQM and the PML.
“MQM even outlined its own shadow budget which speaks volumes about the lack of consultation with the government and with the coalition partners,” she said.
She also highlighted data integrity as an issue evident both in the Economic Survey of Pakistan as well as in the budget documents.
Speaking on the topic of Demystifying Defence Budget, Air Vice Marshall (Retd.) Shahzad Chaudhry said that contrary to the popular perception, the armed forces follow a strict procedure, much like any other ministry, through which the defence budget is prepared.
He said political parties must work to change the mission of the armed forces or change the threat level to the country or consider reducing the size of forces.
Members of Parliament present on the occasion deeply appreciated Pildat’s initiative and raised various questions relating to the budget.