‘Quarantining’ ego Govt should immediately seek opposition’s cooperation

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:15 PM, 9 Apr, 2020
‘Quarantining’ ego Govt should immediately seek opposition’s cooperation

On July 1 starts the new fiscal year – and before that the federal and provincial governments get approved their respective budgets.

The budget session lasts about a month during which the ruling party and the opposition exchange “fireworks” over differences on priorities, allocations for various sectors.

Generally, the exercise is completed by the third week of June.  

This year there is a totally new situation because of the fast-spreading coronavirus, as a result of which more than 80,000 people have lost their lives across the world and more than 1.5 million are infected.

The National Assembly session was adjourned a few weeks ago because of the spreading coronavirus -  and to meet experts call for social distancing among the people to contain the contagion.

The question is how will the budget session be held this time when, so far, the situation remains out of control and the prime minister has warned that it will worsen in weeks ahead. He has also advised the countrymen not to take the virus lightly as it could take more lives.

It is a million dollars question how will the NA session be held in the prevailing situation and how will the budget be approved on time? Likewise, how will it be possible for the provincial legislatures to meet and discharge this annual constitutional duty?

Apparently, if the situation doesn’t normalize during the next few weeks the government will have to devise a new mechanism and rely on technology to honour this obligation. Maybe, a video link is tried or the legislators are given some other advice.

This will be a new experiment in the new situation. How does it play out will be clear when put in practice.

The budget is the government’ roadmap for the next year. It outlines the allocations for various sectors according to the priorities set by the party in power.

The preparation of the budget in a situation which was totally unpredictable and getting it approved when the opposition is fuming because of the ‘accountability’ being carried out at present would be a challenging task.

The disaster caused by the corona has upset all calculations. The allocations made for various walks of life for the outgoing fiscal have become irrelevant. Countless people have been thrown out of jobs because of the resultant closure of factories, shops. Daily wagers are the hardest hit.  

The government is spending billions to feed the empty stomachs and enable the “have nots” to meet their immediate requirements.

How much allocation of which sector was diverted to meet the challenge of the new situation will be clear only when the government presents supplementary budget for the outgoing fiscal. Same will be the case at the provincial level.

Pragmatism demands that the government should immediately start consultations with the opposition for the preparation of the new budget. It should ‘quarantine’ ego and go out of the way to get their support. Opposition’s input may be helpful in dealing with the situation that has befallen the already poor country.

Categories : Opinion