Amidst endless political turmoil, with inflation standing at 38 per cent in May and the country teetering on the brink of default, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar presented the budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 on Friday. There was no Opposition present in parliament to suggest amendments. The budget was presented without the chaos we usually witness during budget speeches.

Whatever semblance of Opposition we have, did criticise the coalition government for presenting a budget that appeases the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the chances of an IMF bailout appear slim, and if the bailout does not materialise, the threat of default is significant.

In the next fiscal year, external payments of 25 billion dollars are required, which cannot be arranged without the IMF, as no international organisation will provide funds without the IMF’s involvement.


It is also pertinent to mention here that no target from the previous budget was achieved. The growth target was set at 5 per cent, but it remained at 0.28 per cent, an abysmally low rate. The inflation target was set at 11.5 per cent, but it remained at 29 per cent, an astonishingly high rate.

Budget deficit exceeded the target by Rs2.2 trillion, and the upcoming fiscal year has a tax target of Rs9.2 trillion, out of which 80 per cent, or Rs7.3 trillion, will be spent on paying interests alone.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has rejected the budget, claiming that it offers no relief for the poor. Maybe if they had stayed in parliament and expressed criticism on the floor of the House, their objections could have had a stronger impact and they could have had a significant influence on shaping the budget. PTI’s criticism from outside parliament, without any actual impact, highlights the crucial role of the Opposition’s presence in such situations.

A functioning democracy relies on the active participation of the Opposition to ensure the budget serves the interests of all citizens. The current scenario calls for a commitment to democratic values and for an Opposition that can help to effectively shape policies. The presence of Opposition in parliament is not just a symbol of a healthy democracy, it is a prerequisite for balanced decision-making, inclusive policies, and a stronger, more prosperous Pakistan.