LAHORE – Commenting on the Federal budget, PPP’s central Punjab President, Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo termed it jugglery of words and statistics devoid of any good news for the poor.
On 10 per cent raise in salaries of government employees, the PPP described it as peanuts, adding, that unprecedented food inflation had squeezed the income of the middle class and the poor sections of the society.
In a Press statement, Wattoo said that Finance Minister in his budget speech made mention of the development projects initiated by the PPP government. He further stated that agriculture sector had been totally ignored in the new budget, as the government did not come up with any incentive for the farmers.
Wattoo said that the farmers of Pakistan had been facing the major brunt of the inflation as the inputs prices had gone up considerably and the trend had been hurting the community the hardest way in the absence of the support from the government. It had rather withdrawn the subsidies which were available to them during the PPP government, he said.
He said that the prices of inputs were the highest in Pakistan as compared to the other countries of the region and, therefore, the net result was the lower productivity in the agriculture sector.
According to him, the projection of the lower growth rate in the agriculture sector during the current financial year was the proof of the anti- farmers policy of the present government.
Wattoo said that the agriculture sector had registered downward trends according to the official documents which was a bad news for rural economy where large chunk of county’s population lived. It happened due to the visible ill-will of the government towards farmers, he observed.
He said that the growth rate in agriculture sector during 2013-2014 was 2.12 as against the target of 3.8 per cent for the current financial year. It was lower than the growth rate achieved in the sector during the PPP government’s financial year of 2012-2013, he added.
Manzoor pointed out that the figures clearly indicated the apathy of the government towards the agriculture sector and flawed development strategy of the government and consequently the determination of wrong priorities.
He reminded of the government that about two thirds population of the country was dependent directly or indirectly on this sector as a source of employment and ,therefore, the step motherly treatment was not justified even on social and economic grounds.
He further said that the agriculture sector was far less capital intensive as compared to the other sectors and yet the immediate benefits in terms of employment and boost to the agro-based industries would be phenomenal.
He warned the government not to test the patience of the farmers and avoid putting them in a tight corner, adding, that the PPP was committed to the cause of farmers and would not rest till their legitimate demands were met by the govt.