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Our real challenge

The only hurdle that stands in the rapid economic recovery and progress of Pakistan is its own self-serving and pampered elite.  Consider just one aspect – the elite captured pays and pensions.

Pakistan’s Pension budget for FY23 is Rs530 billion. This is unsustainable and exceeds the budgeted outlay on the total  Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

The highest salary (including dozens of hidden allowances and perks) of any government official must not exceed Rs.400,000.  This should be the salary of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and all other salaries be  proportionately downsized.   The highest pension of any official must not exceed Rs.150,000.  Pensions could be reduced by a simple formula – anyone receiving a pension in excess of Rs.40,000 receives a revised pension of Rs.40,000 plus half of the pension that was in excess of Rs.40,000, ensuring that no pension exceeds the upper limit of Rs150,000.

Four more pension specific reforms need to be implemented.

  1. Pensions ought to be taxable like any other income. Pension should also be denied to anyone not listed as a tax filer.
  2. Stop paying pension in foreign exchange to hundreds of government pensioners living abroad.
  3. Pensions must be limited to the pensioner and spouse, and not extended to the second generation. All such pensions be immediately discontinued.
  4. A one-time physical survey of pensioners be conducted to eliminate thousands of ghosts pensioners.

A government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich will not carry out any serious reforms that hurt the very people who receive these benefits.  Causing this change is perhaps the biggest challenge for all those seeking progress and betterment of Pakistan.

Naeem Sadiq