LAHORE: The federal and provincial governments should prepare their budgets in view of the considerations of women and income-poor households, Dr Qais Aslam, a professor of economics at University of Central Punjab, said on Wednesday. He was speaking at a seminar organised by HomeNet Pakistan to review federal and Punjab government budgets for 2015-2016 for allocations to the informal sector of the economy. Dr Aslam said budgets were prepared by the bureaucracy without consultation with the civil society comprising non-government organisations, media, lawyers and other working people. He said the provincial government had set the minimum wage at Rs13,000 but there was no mechanism put in place to ensure its implementation in the informal sector. He lamented that the government had yet to approve a policy on home-based workers (HBWs) in the province. NGOs who work with HBWs estimate their number in the province to be more than 56 million.
Dr Aslam said both federal and Punjab governments had ignored social protection of marginalised population groups, including those employed in the informal sector, in their budgets. He said the provincial government had also completely ignored environment protection in the budget.
He questioned the Rs41 billion allocated by the federal government for Pakistan Railways. He said the Railways was catering to only four per cent of the country’s passenger and cargo traffic.
Earlier, HomeNet Pakistan Senior Programme Officer Javed Pasha called upon the civil society to debate ways through which the federal and Punjab governments could address the concerns of the informal sector in their budgets. He also emphasised the importance of monitoring mechanisms to ensure transparency in allocation and utilisation of funds in the social sector.
HomeNet Pakistan Advocacy Manager Maria Kokab told that audience that the informal sector comprised mostly women workers.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.