The presentation of the budget seemingly fell on deaf ears in the parliament, not just because the parliamentarians were uninterested, but because the budget was so boring and uncreative that they were lulled into a stupor.

This is supposedly a year for the agriculture sector if the government is to be believed, and this is important because of the 0.19 percent decrease of growth in the sector. The price of urea bags has been reduced to increase sales, the sales tax on pesticides and its ingredients has been removed and the power tariff of tube wells has also been reduced. These measures can lead to a boost for the sector, but it remains to be seen whether the ultimate goal of food sustainability is reachable. We are already a water stressed country, and our yield is fast contracting.

The most debated changes are in the taxation mechanism. Decreasing the corporate tax is consistent with the government’s inherent bias towards the business community. Additionally, the inclusion of an entire list of withholding taxes and taxes for non-filers tells us that the PML-N is no closer to winning its battle with the business community over paying their taxes. There aren’t many meaningful changes in the sales tax apart from exempting laptop and PC imports from taxation and relaxation on solar panel imports. On the other hand, there have been increases in the tax of various goods such as cement and cigarettes, but most important of these changes is perhaps the decision to withdraw the zero-rating on milk and stationary, the latter of which could bring up the cost of education.

The total value of the taxation measures set by the government currently stands at Rs150 billion, which is too ambitious and will probably be missed. The country will work on a deficit again, as it has always; after all, getting loans is easier than generating revenue. The problem with the current government is that they are more focused on creating a good image, than providing us with a factual picture of the economy. The lack of a census compounds the problem. The government is making estimates about the economy with out-dated population data.

There are old hang ups as well. For instance, why must military pensions be paid by the civilian budget, if the military already gets 11 percent of the yearly budget? Rs 860 billion is no small sum, compounded by the the addition of another Rs 178 billion for something that should be the military’s responsibility. The PMN-L is offered boons to all those sectors that it believes it can win votes from. If the agricultural and industrial sectors had not been incentivised this year, they might have lost their faith in the government, but the government has seemingly avoided this prospect for now.