Resources for military hinder welfare schemes

Published: December 28, 2011

HRCP asks if policies are in accordance with development-needs. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

LAHORE: 

The division of resources between the defence and the social sector in Pakistan is tilted towards the former, preventing improvements in the welfare of the people, according to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report on the federal and provincial budgets of the current year.

The report titled Budgeting for Rights’ states that the actual difference between the defence and the social sector spending is greater than that reported in the budgets. It said while the defence budget of the country was Rs495.2 billion, up to Rs582 billion was being spent on the sector. In comparison, it said, Rs440.3 billion was being spent on the social sector (24 per cent less than defence spending).

Lawyer Hina Jillani said that there was a need to determine if the defence and the foreign policies of the country were in accordance with the development needs of the people.

HRCP director IA Rehman said at Rs495.2 billion, the defence budget did not include the expenses incurred on the rehabilitation of people displaced in the military operations in the tribal areas. The report mentioned that Rs1.1 billion would be spent during the year on seven development projects at universities run by the military and Rs73.2 billion on pensions of armed forces personnel. It said the Ministry of Defence’s expenditure on airport security and spending on federal government education institutions in cantonments and garrisons, defence divisions and defence production divisions were also funded from the non-military budget.

In comparison, the report said, funds allocated for the maintenance of law and order in the country were not enough. It also pointed to the low conviction rate as a possible explanation for the poor security situation in the country.

Health and education

The report mentioned that there had been no improvement in the disparity in health sector spending between rural and urban areas, the latter getting the majority of the funds. It said there was no provision in the health sector budget for emergency requirements in times of natural disasters despite the experience of 2010 floods. It said the health sector was worse off then the education sector. The report recommended that the education budget be increased to four per cent of gross domestic product. It called for an immediate revision of the curriculum and suggested that after devolution of education to the provinces teaching at schools be carried out in regional languages.

Labour

The report stated that the Rs7,000 per month minimum wage was not enough.

Quoting an HRCP survey, IA Rehman said that only 15 to 20 per cent of workers in the country were receiving a wage equal to or more than the minimum wage. He said up to 80 per cent were working at wages lower than those required by the law. It mentioned labor unions’ concern about the devolution of the Labour Ministry. It said the unions were concerned that their struggle for welfare would be hurt by devolution.

Govt subsidies

It said there were no mechanisms in place to ensure that government subsidies, particularly those given on food commodities and fuel,  were reaching the target population groups.

It said while the Benazir Income Support Programme was a positive measure, the stipend was too low at Rs1,000 a month. It suggested that a poverty scorecard be developed in cooperation with the National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA) to ensure that the target groups benefit from these funds.

Housing

The report said that the budget mentioned that housing would be provided to up to 250,000 people in the country this year. However, it said, there was a need to formulate a long-term housing policy in accordance with population growth projections. The policy, it added, should also benefit people living in slums.

Disaster management

The HRCP report said funds allocated for disaster management were not enough keeping in view the experience of the current and the previous years. It mentioned that Sindh had allocated Rs0.28 billion for the current year, even though its expenditure last year had been Rs10.4 billion.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Dec 28, 2011 - 4:06AM

    Army is necessity. We need to fulfill its demands.

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  • Harry Stone
    Dec 28, 2011 - 4:13AM

    Can’t have everything

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  • Sajida
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:55AM

    What really hinders development funds is the fact there are no agriculture taxes!

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  • shahid butt
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:57AM

    With a small budget of 495 billion rupees(5 billion dollars) ,Army is doing extra duties like law and order,in flood,in quakes,on borders,reach police help,on muharram and 24 hours duty and not 6 hoiurs.Defence budget is 5 billion dollars but this small budget provides more than 10 laks pakistanis job.Finish army and government will spend 1200 billion to provide jobs to these 10 laks soldiers who will become civilian as they will be accomodated in civil jobs as they too pakistanis.Similarly more than 1000 billions is spent on Steel mill,Railway.Wapda,PIA who provide less than 4 laks pakistani jobs. Similarly,If army finished,then more than 3 laks police will have to recruited as police totally dependent on army in most of balochistan,khyber pakhtankhwa and other areas where army reach for police help and that will cost 200 billion extra.In flood and earth quakes where army save million of people so if no army then civil government will have to make a big department for flood etc of more than 3 laks people costing 400 billions and so army with triple duties on one salary for 24 hours is costing less.5 billion dollars budget is less than 1% of united states of 600 billion dollars budget.United states spend huge budget on 8 lak soldiers and during small movement,their soldiers surrounded by more than 15 helicopters for safety.It is economic mismanagement thats cannot bear 8 hours budget of united states.our defence budget of whole one year is less than US 8 hours expenditures.

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  • Paki-Australian
    Dec 28, 2011 - 7:49AM

    This is AWFUL!

    Army is devouring the country in the name of defence. An ordinary man has no bread to feed on, let alone clothes or shelter and Army’s share of budget is in excess of 25% of the Pak Budget on avergae compared to 0.8% on education. No wonder pakistanis are un-satisfied with the current setup.

    We have placed army on our heads as if it were a crown, while we starve to death – this is UNACCEPTABLE!

    Some one’s gotta give – and that some one better be ARMY AND ISI !!!Recommend

  • liberal
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:01AM

    Yes, let’s stop the mil ops against the militants to save money. 5ialogue is the only way forward.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:06AM

    Billions still being spent on increasing nuclear arsenal is disastrous for Pak economy.

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  • Imran
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:14AM

    If Pasha travels first class, and stays in 750 pound per night suite during his England visit to meet with Ijaz Mansoor, then we know where the defense money is going.

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  • Munir Ahmad Saeed
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:16AM

    @Zaid Hamid:
    Former USSR had 4 million armed forces and thousands of missiles, all that could not stop it’s collapse. Pakistan is a small fry and if we continue spending 25 percent of our budget on defense and 0.8 percent on education, there will be no Pakistan to feed this hungry army. Only investment on human capital will make economy strong not the tanks and F16s. Just in our neighborhood it is strong economy not the strong army that makes India a great country.

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  • Observer
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:22AM

    @shahid butt:
    You totally miss the economic impact of over spending on the army. Pakistan in actuality spends over 10 to 12% of its GDP including military pensions, interest servicing of debt accumulated for past military purchases and the nuke program. That is a very high number compared to other countries. If a good portion of this large sum of money is invested instead in economic development, that will produce more jobs and create a self-sustaining economic growth.

    Again, it is a choice that Pakistan made- “we will eat grass in order to get nukes and be militarily strong”. That has been Pakistan’s national priority for the past 65 years.

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  • Farhan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:49AM

    We just are used to blaming army for everything! Give the same amount to any other department and see what happens!

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  • DILU
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:50AM

    Is it the same human rights commission which is being headed by Asma Jahangir ?? If it is then every one knows the purpose behind this report.

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  • ahmad
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:51AM

    Given the performance against terrorism & sovereignty the defence budget seems a waste. All its doing is increasing commercial ventures of army and facilitating higher ups of army.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:05AM

    @shahid butt:
    By your logic, it makes more sense to make every citizen of Pakistan join the army. No more unemployment in Pakistan!

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 11:07AM

    This is what happens when an ant tries to catch up with an elephant. Pakistan in its quest to match the Indian Defence expenditure is harming its Country.

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  • Mard-e-Haq
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:12AM

    With an illiteracy rate of of close to 50%, such a high level of defense spending is inexcusable. Those who argue that large sums are needed to combat militants flies in the face one overriding reality — neither our army top brass nor our civilian leadership has the resolute will needed to eradicate terror. The question of combating militancy is not one over budget sizes, but that of political will. Furthermore, both the army top brass and our civilian leaders use the militancy pawn for their respective power struggles.

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  • KiJ
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:20AM

    Collect taxes from the rich tax-evaders and spend it on social sector….

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  • Hu Jintao
    Dec 28, 2011 - 11:27AM

    @R S JOHAR:
    Its better to spend on defence which is most needed right now

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  • Mirza
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:08PM

    There is an urgent need to protect and preserve the huge army at the cost of Pakistan and its citizens. Army is the most important institution, not Pakistan or constitution or its large population. There is an urgent need to infuse new funds in the business empire of the army. Pakistan is for the army and not the other way around.

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  • sam
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:56PM

    politicians should bring their billions of dollars back in Pakistan. forces need money to defend.

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  • Zohair
    Dec 28, 2011 - 1:07PM

    spending on defence has gained much more importance in the current scenario and it would be difficult to cut it down but what can be done is that Defence forces should also add to the Country’s money bank by depositing the revenues earned through commercial ventures. NUST university, Bahria University, Air University, Army Public Schools, Military Dairy Farms, Super Markets and Hyper Markets in the Cantonement areas, rental earnings from commercial entities in military zones and marriage halls etc. I am not of the view that army should be stripped of its privileges because then it would become like Police where major reason for corruption is compensation next to nothing with non-existant benefits. but with with the addition of these revenues the defence may be able to sustain some of its expenses.

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  • ahmad
    Dec 28, 2011 - 1:28PM

    @Zohair: “NUST university, Bahria University, Air University, Army Public Schools, Military Dairy Farms, Super Markets and Hyper Markets in the Cantonement areas, rental earnings from commercial entities in military zones and marriage halls etc” it is because of these activities and poking its nose in politics to ensure these activities that army has lost its professionalism . Give me example of just one country on planet earth where army is involved in such commercial activities. Moreover these commercial activities also gain undue govt subsidies (e.g faugi fertilizer gets 12 billion as subsidy) but their products are not subsidized,rather subsidies go to the pockets of retd. army officers serving in these organizations.

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  • MAD
    Dec 28, 2011 - 1:39PM

    Isnt this the body Asma Jehangir used to head?

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  • jan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 2:03PM

    These figure are incorrect. It does not figure in the provincial budgets for social services. By the way, delivery of social services is the responsibility of the provinces aftert the 18 amendment and NFC award which gives lions share to the the provinces. The provinces can raise billions itself by taxing agriculture income.

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  • Ashraf P
    Dec 28, 2011 - 2:33PM

    During peace time the military should be used to educate the poor in army tents – instead of the endless drills that have no meaning. Apart from running everything else is useless. The running comes in handy when the enemy is after you.

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  • Imran
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:01PM

    @Farhan:
    “We just are used to blaming army for everything! Give the same amount to any other department and see what happens!”

    Outcome won’t be worse!

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 6:20PM

    The report mentioned that Rs1.1 billion would be spent during the year on seven development projects at universities run by the military and Rs73.2 billion on pensions of armed forces personnel. It said the Ministry of Defence’s expenditure on airport security and spending on federal government education institutions in cantonments and garrisons, defence divisions and defence production divisions were also funded from the non-military budget.

    Pension expenses and some of the other expenses mentioned here are not included in the defence budget of almost every nation in the world, including India – so if we are comparing an ‘all inclusive Pakistani defence budget’ with the defence budget of other nations, we need to also include the money spent on military pensions, airport and port security etc. in the budget of other nations, to make this an ‘apples to apples’ comparison.

    Please see the following link for slides explaining the money earned by PakMil run businesses and how they are managed etc…

    http://www.defence.pk/forums/land-forces/149283-details-pak-army-non-military-projects.html

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  • Dec 28, 2011 - 6:26PM

    @Imran:

    A comparison between the Military run businesses and the Civilian led businesses (PIA, Pakistan Steel, Railway’ etc.) would strongly suggest that the ‘Outcome will be far worse’.

    Last I checked, just the largest PSE’s (Public Sector Enterprises) lose over $3 billion annually, and that does not include the indirect and associated costs due to the monopolies and corruption some of these businesses have.

    Compare the $3 billion in annual PSE losses to the $5 billion defence budget – the HRCP can whine and rant all it wants, but it is certainly not coming across as objective in its findings by ignoring the real issues draining resources in Pakistan, such as the PSE losses and a minuscule tax base – but of course the last two are anathema to our ‘liberal commentators’, who would rather spend their time chasing the ‘Army’ bogeyman instead of advocating for real change.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:44PM

    This issue isn’t unique to Pakistan. Every country has to allocate it’s limited resources — in Pakistan’s case you probably devote more to defense than warranted – but so does the USA. What makes a big difference is that your a poor country and the USA is a rich country.

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