For all its rhetoric to provide ‘relief’ to the masses, the establishment is in no mood to sacrifice the lavish lifestyles of top government functionaries.
The budget figures presented to the parliament on Friday reveal an exorbitant increase in the money allocated to the president house, the PM secretariat, the National Assembly and the Senate.
The huge complex housing President Asif Ali Zardari at the foothills of Margalla Hills in Islamabad will be maintained at a princely sum of Rs617 million during the fiscal year 2012-2013. The same figure for the outgoing year stood at Rs483 million, showing a considerable increase of 27.8 per cent or Rs134 million.
Allocations for the president house were summed up in just one sentence in an apparent bid to downplay the matter. The stated expenses fell under “staff household and allowances of the president.”
Just a few yards away from Zardari’s presidency stands another tall building with sprawling lawns and high balconies. This complex is the prime minister’s secretariat. The budget allocated to the premier’s secretariat is Rs702.83 million, up 28% from the Rs546.58 allocated in the previous fiscal year. However, the secretariat ended up spending Rs741 million – far more than the designated sum.
In the debate as to with which institution lies real constitutional supremacy – the emerging parliament, the assertive judiciary or the powerful military – the proposed spending plan makes an emphatic suggestion.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2012.
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