By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
The coalition government of Balochistan, led by Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, has presented Rs 215.713 billion deficit budget for financial year 2014-2015. They (the legislators) have termed this financial year’s budget ‘friendly’ during a session of the Provincial Assembly. Unlike past governments, the present provincial government has increased the budget to a greater extent. But, on the other hand, the independent economists say that this year’s budget, like that of the previous year’s, will be lapsed. Reason: the security situation in Balochistan has not been improved; rather, it is has gone from bad to worse. That is why it is seemingly impossible for the provincial government to revamp the provincial economy, which has been crumbling for decades.
In the education and health sectors, the government has allocated 23 per cent and 8.6 per cent in the budget, respectively. But, pragmatically, the funds on ground are nowhere to be seen. As usual, a chunk of the funds will be pocketed by the corrupt leaders while a diminutive part of it will be used in unimportant and unwanted schemes. This is the reason why these two sectors are not flourishing, and have always been in a sorry state. Unfortunately, a great number of schools and hospitals in Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Awaran and Chagai districts are turned into ghost schools and hospitals.
Anwar Sajjidi, who is Editor-in-Chief of a daily Urdu in Quetta, told this writer, “The financial year’s budget will be utilized in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt with ease, which is tranquil unlike Balochistan’s Baloch belt. As far the Baloch populated places, the budget may not be properly employed due to law and order situation.” Moreover the minsters from Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal-ur-Rehman’s faction (JUI-F) in Balochistan are sitting on opposition benches. Indeed, most of its ministers’ constituencies are in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt, and they have been lamenting that their constituencies in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt have also been neglected in the budget.
The hapless people of the aforementioned districts are dwelling in their thatched huts. Their homes and villages have either been inundated due to floods or razed to the rubble due to earthquake in their areas. Even the international donors were intercepted from going to these areas to help the residents out. It is unfortunate that the provincial government, too, has ignored them in the budget. On the other hand, they are unnecessarily digging out the roads to make drainage system in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, which have been creating problems unnecessarily for the citizens and causing traffic jams.
Strangely, the documents of the budget were also not revealed to the media, which denotes lack of commitment and transparency from the government for not letting the public know about the budgetary decisions. It is one of the reasons the government has received harsh criticism at the hands of the opposition and media persons.
The people of Balochistan anxiously awaited the budget, but they are seemingly disappointed having not seen the development projects on ground. Besides, the provincial government has also failed to fulfill its promises after coming to power, which has added to their miseries and disappointment. For example, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch who, after being elected as Balochistan’s Chief Minister, vowed that he would resolve the myriad issues of the province; particularly the issue of Balochistan’s missing persons. But after a few months, he himself acknowledged at the Karachi Press Club that he was unable to resolve Balochistan’s missing persons’ issue, as it is beyond his authority.
In this way, the province that is dealing with numerous issues has created ‘an insecure environment’. So, in an insecure environment, how can the provincial government come up to people’s expectations and bring about development in Balochistan?