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Pakistan’s Budget: Defense vs. Education?

Posted by yourpakistan on April 23, 2012


The share of defense in Pakistan’s budget has come down. But the savings are not transferred to education. Who is responsible? 

SPECIAL REPORT | 23 April 2012

PakNationalists.net 

A fresh study into Pakistan’s expenditures reports a 1.5% decline in Defense Budget’s share of the nation’s GDP. But the same study shows that the savings have not been transferred by the government to the Education Budget, which ironically sees a steady decline. 

The PCRR, or the Perceptor Compiled & Research Report, a research group that conducted the study for MediaPoint.pk, says its research was prompted by a debate in the Pakistani media over the respective shares of education and defense in the national budget. 

The study results are shown in a table that compares Pakistan’s national budgets starting from 2000/2001 and ending with 2011/2012. 

The study concludes that Pakistan’s defense budget has seen a “continuous decline” from 3.9% of GDP to 2.4%, which means a 1.5% GDP saving to the government). 

In simple words, this means that the country’s defense expenditure has been claiming a lower share in Pakistan’s revenues over the past decade.  But ironically the Education Budget sees a downward trend in the same period, from 2.49% of GDP in 2007/2008 to 0.9% in 2011/2012. 

The period has seen two elected governments, the military-backed but civilian-led government of President Musharraf from 2002-07, and the incumbent government of President Zardari that took charge in 2008.

What the report does not say is where the savings from the defense budget have gone.

But the answer is not difficult for most Pakistanis. An elite of about 1,000 politicians, members of the federal and four provincial parliaments, is accused by Pakistanis of the worst corruption in Pakistan’s history. Pakistanis lose billions of rupees each year to massive corruption. Most of this corruption is done by politicians and their allies inside the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy is often not the culprit. But bad apples planted or coaxed by politicians ruin its reputation.

The PCRR says it favors an investment in both education and defense but that the military budget is not to be blamed for the government’s failure to allocate enough resources to education and stem corruption.

“Great nations know that value of a school teacher is more than a general in peace time and in war a Sepoy [soldier] assumes priority over vice chancellor of university. Therefore, they invest in both to uphold sovereignty and integrity of the nation,” the report authors say.

General Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of the army staff, is on record as having said the military institution would not mind if the entire amount of $7.5 billion pledged by the United States to Pakistan under the 2009 Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill went to the national budget, especially education and healthcare, adding the military had no interest in any share of the amount. [So far, the US government has failed to release the funds from the bill despite the hype about US aid programs to Pakistan.]

The latest figures that show a decline in Defense Budget’s share in Pakistan’s GDP contradict the line taken by critics who claim the country’s defense expenditure is responsible for holding back funding to education and healthcare.

The government’s failure to transfer funds to education has not been properly probed by civil society groups and the media.

In Balochistan, for example, the government’s failure to build and operate quality schools impacted national security. The government’s failure led several branches of the military, including Navy, Army and Frontier Corp, to build and operate more than three-dozen schools and colleges open to the population in the province.

This report is based on an original post by MediaPoint.pk

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