Stories about budget

No more loans, please

It’s common to hear people quote the dollar amount the United States spends annually on its wars and homeland security — and put next to it the money needed to end world poverty, Aids, cancer or malaria. One such comparison is that the US has spent $980 billion in Iraq since 2003, which is enough to wipe out world poverty for 10 years. According to another estimate, the United States can control malaria deaths in Africa by diverting 3.7 per cent of its $81 billion annual budget for national intelligence. I’m not pro-war. Neither do I approve of heavy military spending ...

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A mere debating club?

It’s 11.30am. I’m still anxiously waiting for Senate’s proceedings to kick off. An hour has gone by since the Senate chairman had announced that the session would begin at 10.30 am. The unending wait has jaded me, along with many other reporters present with me to cover the proceedings of the upper chamber of parliament. In this, I recall the words of a senator, who had said that the Senate was nothing more than a debating club. And given what I was presently doing, I tended to agree with him, though at that point in time, the debate had not ...

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Why London burned again

Last summer Britain’s Coalition government introduced the strongest budget cuts in England in decades. To rein in debts, 77 per centof the consolidation was to come from spending cuts compared to only 23% by increasing taxation; with its approval lawmakers had lit the match that would set Britain on Fire. The killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan last week in Tottenham – by officers of the Met Police’s Gun Control Wing – resulted in a Protest for Justice on Saturday. By nightfall the mostly black youth of Tottenham, had turned violent. Over 6000 people claim jobless benefits in Tottenham, the highest unemployment ...

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Islamabad Diary: Spinning around in numbers

Like most journalists I took up the profession because I was useless at math. It is ironic – and quite painful – then that I was surrounded by numbers for the first month after I moved to Islamabad. Even worse I, an English and History graduate, was expected to make sense of numbers that often ran into seven or eight digits. It was budget season in Islamabad, a time when people pretend to know what encumbrance control and interfund agreements mean and then proceed to thoughtfully ponder their significance to Pakistan’s financial future. Since mathematical nous isn’t native to most journalists, ...

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Gutsy Marvi steps down…goes solo?

I won’t lie – I’ve often made fun of Marvi Memon’s overzealous emotional style, her long winded breathless sentences without full stops and the almost audible exclamation mark at the end of her sound bytes. At times, I have used her high pitched quotes to add a bit of life to an otherwise dull TV report. More often than not, when I have seen her protesting on the streets I have wondered why a parliamentarian who claims to care so much for the masses, would associate herself with a party whose manifesto seems to focus on regaining power. On Wednesday, as ...

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Budget lies the government tells you every year

So, it’s the budget season again: the country goes through the motions of presenting budgets at the Federal and Provincial levels. As always there are tons of discussions over the types of budgets that should be presented. Each year like clockwork we see the same faces pop up on TV screens and newspapers giving the same old opinions on what should be and what should not be. But eventually the same thing happens. Absolutely nothing. It is in that spirit that I am have decided to write what the government does not tell the people and what the pundits conveniently miss out. 1. ...

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Stop the rhetoric, tell us if we are in the dumps

As we get close to finalising an 18 per cent deficit budget for Pakistan, our institutions are busy bickering with each other rather than thinking, for a second, about how royally screwed we are with regards to our economy. For those of you who are not economists, an 18 per cent deficit is simply ridiculous; normally countries have budgets around the 7-10 per cent marker, where the shortfall of funds is generated through either issuing bonds, cutting government spending or through public borrowing. An economy goes in to panic mode when the deficit hits double digits, but for some reason ...

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Vacation 101: Plan your trip

Hey folks, it’s that time of the year when the temperatures turn to all time highs, hair turns frizzy, moods decline before 9am and you feel that your face and the inner thoughts you are masking underneath, will be awash with a tidal wave of perspiration. With schools shutting down for the annual break and the office conversation turning to “so where are you headed off this year?” it is time to plan your escape to a brief sojourn in to a land unknown! Sounds exotic and exciting but most of us are guilty of having our holidays on repeat – ...

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Apologies, Lieutenant Yasir Abbas

I have always been a supporter of the extravagant budget spending on Pakistan’s defence. The high global ranking of our military has always served as reason for me to maintain my stance and argue in favour of the forces. In debates with friends and colleagues, I have, several times, flaunted the fact that if there is one great thing about Pakistan, it is our defence. Unfortunately, this all changed recently. Little did I know that the forces I talked so highly of would miss an ‘unknown’ number of people jumping in to one of the most valuable bases in ...

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Education at square one

Sixty-three years worth of disparities. I find it an illogical argument that for the majority of this country an important life-changing issue such as education will remain secondary to clothing, housing and nutrition. Why must the underprivileged be responsible for changing their own fortunes? How come there is Shining India, with the youth from middle class Calcutta, Hyderabad, and even the smaller suburbs of Delhi and Bombay, doing well in sectors such as IT, both at home and abroad? How come the youth in these countries and cities have more opportunities than us? I pin that down to the fact ...

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