Dear finance minister, your new budget is killing us

Published: June 3, 2014
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Sir. I do not understand the tall claims made by your government about the GDP improving, the changes in the growth ratio, the dollar prices or inflation. Such information has no value to commoners like me or to 90% of Pakistan that is like me. PHOTO: AFP

Dear Finance Minister,

I belong to the class of ‘common men’; some people also call us ‘mango men’ or ‘aam admi’. Ours is a species that is found in abundance everywhere in Pakistan. If you ever look out of your bullet proof BMW, you will notice one of my fellow beings selling something or the other on a footpath.

We are also found polishing shoes, unloading trucks, offering window covers during a traffic signal, pouring hot tea in a cup at a tea stall, pushing a fruit or vegetable cart or driving a donkey cart loaded with a number of things.

There is nothing special about us. You may have walked past us while being escorted by your bodyguards and may not have noticed us at all; like walking past a heap of rubbish without giving it a second look. I am not sure you are aware of our existence, which is why I am writing to you to today.

What makes me believe that you, dear sir, are unaware of our existence, is the fact that the new budget, rumoured to be presented by your government this month, is heavily loaded with a number of taxes. People also say this budget proposes to raise prices to an even higher level. Had you known of our existence and deplorable conditions, Mr Finance Minister, I am sure you would have presented something more favourable; something that would leave us with something to eat, air to breath and hope to live.

But alas!

I have been told that you do not know the problems of the common man and that is why you think that a price hike will not affect us. But, Sir, we do exist. We, the common people, make up a larger portion of your population than the elite class or the businesses you purport to placate.

Yes, I am not as literate as those sitting those air-conditioned cars, Sir. I do not understand the tall claims made by your government about the GDP improving, the changes in the growth ratio, the dollar prices or inflation. Such information has no value to commoners like me or to 90% of Pakistan that is like me.

All that matters to us is that last year, we used to purchase two loaves of baked bread at a price at which we can only buy one now. Formerly, we used to be able to get a little more oil for cooking but now, with every passing day, the quantity of oil decreases. My wife says,

“The day is not far when we will have to cook food in water.”

Last year we purchased a kilogram of fruit and vegetables, today, I pay a higher amount for half the commodities. We don’t have air conditioners, room coolers or computers; I only have two fans, a television and three electric bulbs and yet, since last year, my electricity bill has never fallen below Rs2,000. Not even when the load shedding lasted for 12 to 16 hours a day!

Forgive me, for these are the only standards by which we, the common men, can measure the quality of our poor lives; the economy, the growth rate, the GDP, the dollar price and everything else that your government claims to improve are beyond our understanding.

Dear Sir, while inflation is perpetually on the rise, the daily wages of the common man have not risen at all. Adding to this is the problem of unemployment. We do not stand on the roads, in fruit and vegetable markets and on the cross sections of our cities because that is the life we have chosen. Only the fortunate enough amongst us find work for the day, Sir, the rest of us go back empty handed. We are haunted by the thoughts of our hungry children waiting for us, Sir.

Please forgive me, Sir, for having bothered you with the problems of a common man’s life. I know that you have greater responsibilities on your shoulders than to listen to the ravings of a hungry common man but I felt the need to write to you anyway. Because, if you don’t notice us sooner or later, the new budget presented may actually take the life out of us. Because, if you don’t notice us sooner or later, 90% of Pakistan may perish.

Yours sincerely,

A common man

Zahida Rehman Jatt

Zahida Rehman Jatt

An anthropologist and qualitative researcher who is currently working as a Lecturer at the department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Sindh Jamshoro.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muhammad Waqas

    Beautifully written!!
    Yes, I am a common man and I really don’t understand their claims….Recommend

  • Muhammad Waqas

    Beautifully written!!
    Yes, I am a common man and I really don’t understand their claims….Recommend

  • How is this author “an anthropologist and a qualitative researcher” and still completely unable or unwilling to elevate the level of our national debate through her writing? What is added to a reader’s intellectual grasp of economy and the budget, of the government’s relationship with the public, and of their own rights and obligations as a citizen by reading this haggard litany of pedestrian complaints?

    Yes life is hard for the average citizen, yes the government is not often able or willing to generate growth and stimulate opportunities, and yes there are feedback loops to consider between taxation and inequality, but how are you enlightening me or providing me greater/better perspective on anything?Recommend

  • How is this author “an anthropologist and a qualitative researcher” and still completely unable or unwilling to elevate the level of our national debate through her writing? What is added to a reader’s intellectual grasp of economy and the budget, of the government’s relationship with the public, and of their own rights and obligations as a citizen by reading this haggard litany of pedestrian complaints?

    Yes life is hard for the average citizen, yes the government is not often able or willing to generate growth and stimulate opportunities, and yes there are feedback loops to consider between taxation and inequality, but how are you enlightening me or providing me greater/better perspective on anything?Recommend

  • Munib Mujeeb Jilani

    There is a concept called inflation in economics. It’s a good read.Recommend

  • Munib Mujeeb Jilani

    There is a concept called inflation in economics. It’s a good read.Recommend

  • Salman

    Bravo! An amazing piece of writing. I wish our finance minister understands this.Recommend

  • Mustafa

    It seems as if it was truly written with the intellectual capabilities of the “common man”Recommend

  • Mustafa

    It seems as if it was truly written with the intellectual capabilities of the “common man”Recommend

  • Muhammad Bilal

    Very nice writtenRecommend

  • Muhammad Bilal

    Very nice writtenRecommend

  • Parvez

    …and if 90 % of Pakistanis perish…….do you think that would bother him or his boss ?
    Nicely written made for good reading.Recommend

  • tomakewithlight

    “our existence, is the fact that the new budget, rumoured to be presented by your government this month”

    how pathetic that ET already had a piece ready based on a ‘rumoured’ budget. Did the editors open a free for all?Recommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com/ 2#

    Seriously Zahida, do you have a wife?
    Your wrote: “My wife says,

    “The day is not far when we will have to cook food in water.””Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    MashallahRecommend

  • Ahmad, Zubaid

    This woman has little or no understanding of basic economics. Easy to say such common rhetoric such as `please, no taxes`. Do you think Government is not aware of such issues? Do you think government wants to alienate people?
    Coming federal budget is reportedly tax lighter for non rich but tax heavy for the rich non filers of tax returns.Recommend

  • Sceptic

    A melodramatic a.ttempt devoid of facts.Recommend

  • Reaper

    Ok I didnt read past the 1st paragraph and I know what this article is going to be about…
    You NEED to stop demonizing the rich and stop this entire “common men” argument because frankly it is stupid. PPP has used this slogan so many times to wreck absolute havoc on Pakistan’s economy. I would rather suggest that you take a basic macro economics course and then write on the budget. Change that is sustainable is incremental and slow. Overnight change is a stuff of the dream world and/or PTI jalsas. Educate yourself and dont plead ignorance infront of factsRecommend

  • Titan

    only if he could hear what we want rather than what he think we want.Recommend

  • Titan

    only if he could hear what we want rather than what he think we want.Recommend

  • Saad

    Bravo tribune!!! For publishing a blog by someone who does not understand jack about economy and knows how to dramatize things.
    And that line. WOW. “The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not
    necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.”Recommend

  • marik

    Military spending went up. Corporate taxes came down, a bunch of showy unimplementable measures to punish tax avoiders. Supposedly ‘progressive’ income taxation. No change in sales tax. Thats the budget right tharRecommend

  • Finance Minister

    Reply by Finance Minister, “May you perish in peace”Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Kamranhayder1 Kamran Hayder

    ohh. Blaming the “New Budget” even before studying that. Interesting !!!Recommend

  • Talal Asif

    Dear common man kindly raise your understanding level instead of criticizing government.Recommend

  • Siraj Memon

    @zahida. Let the budget to be implemented in July. It is under discussion now. U may send ur proposal/suggestions directly to the minister. Last, how did u start getting new budgets outcome while it is yet to be implemented.Recommend

  • http://www.khnaveed.com Khwaja Naveed

    Zahida, it is indeed a master piece plea letter written by you ! Being a “mango” man, I second your thoughts.

    National unity is an essential requirement in today’s situation. This can be attained only under a government which is devoted to the people’s welfare and does not oppress them. But in this regime, each antagonist tries to outwit the other.

    Unfortunately, we do not have good leaders but mere selfish rulers. These “Mr. Finance Minister” type of corrupt and subvert officials have been imposed on us, to create and exacerbate internal discord, and to nurture Fifth Columns.

    May God save us !

    (Waiting for ‘Muhammad Bin Qasim’ in Pakistan, who come and rescue us, common man)Recommend

  • Parvez

    I feel she has written it from the point of view of a ‘ common man ‘….aam admi ‘ as she says in her first line.Recommend

  • Mahwash

    I’ll definitely agree with this. As it is generally accepted that the superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.Recommend

  • raj

    seems like a PPP supporter who overlooked the performance of them for the last 5 years and now criticising the new but experienced lot. its Pak people who chose them to the seats and its of no use to cry over spilt milk. For me, the last 5 years have been worst and therefore tough actions have to be taken. the burden is on the nation and will remain untill we stop running after politicians and not leaders. I do understand the things you mentioned (like BMW and luxury politicians are having) but Pak culture is like that. The one who gets the power enjoys it. Its time that we look into the main problem. This budget is good for business class and if the business class is secured, we will get more work as common men and there would be a good flow of money in the country. Relieving on local cars is a good thing too as it will allow people to buy cars and make their local products do well. Salary increase is fine too considering economical situations. One thing they need to curb on is corruption but thats not gonna be their agenda. so leave the problems aside and try to change things at individual level.Recommend

  • Zoon Ahmed Khan
  • Danish Maqbool

    Its coming, they can’t see us coming, but feeling the heat….!
    May, We (the Mango Man [95% population]) realize our power….!Recommend

  • rafiquebrohi

    It candidly expresses laymen vows reeling under scores of problems. Write fearlessly! ZahidaRecommend

  • rafiquebrohi

    its a candid plea- Zahida write fearlessly!Recommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com/ 2#

    how can a common man understand the uncommon strategies? Brother this is about finance and production cycle, not the news that a commoner discusses at the barber shopRecommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com/ 2#

    Thanks for the correction. I figured that out later onRecommend

  • Aaam Adami

    Take your economic awareness to yourself. Give us the right to live in our own country.Recommend

  • aam adami

    If you can’t understand the real feeling of aam Pakistani, then please leave us and go and live in jaddah or whatever, else aam adami will drag you on the roads very soon inshallahRecommend

  • aam adami

    yaa tumhari ini uncommand strategies k chakar mein aam adami mar jay, tum ko fikar naeen. Inshallah PMLN people will be dragged on roads very soon inshallah. We hate PMLN (the party who can only win by rigging elections and have no feelings for aam adami)Recommend

  • Rana Abid

    I’ll definitely agree with this. As it is generally accepted that the superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.Recommend

  • Sobia Shah Jeelani

    it is just a so could articleRecommend