Rationalizing public expenditure


Amid a deepening crisis of cost of living, the government has come up with another move to reinvigorate its depleting coffers by slashing public expenditure. The move is likely to expose the government’s vulnerabilities and exacerbate its financial woes and is set to hit hard both the government servants and the masses, who have been reeling under a price hike that has been unprecedented in the chequered history of the country, so far.
The government which is run by an army of cabinet ministers, advisors and special assistants has already notified the formation of the National Austerity Committee (NAC). Surprisingly enough, the new body is headed, not by the minister of state for finance, but by a former civil servant. The fact that the position of the state minister for finance has been relegated has raised many an eye brow among the masses and public servants.
A notification issued to the effect reads: “Keeping in view the financial challenges being faced by the country, to conserve resources and to take austerity measures for ensuring rational utilization of public money besides curtailing expenditure to reduce fiscal deficit, the prime minister has been pleased to constitute a National Austerity Committee.”
The new body, which has already been dented by a number of contradictions, was set up with effect from January 13, but its notification was issued on January 19. It has been mandated to give its recommendations to the prime minister within 15 days of its formation on curtailing public expenditures and ensuring fiscal discipline.
It is projected that the bulk of national budget is spent on two heads only, one of which is the payment of interest on loans and the second is the defence expenditure. However, it is an open secret that the over-sized cabinets during the successive government have eaten up most of the resources, which are reflected on the accumulation of loans. As such, the decision to set up a new body to spell out austerity measures for the government appears bizarre, particularly when it comes to the Titanic like size of the present federal cabinet.
The austerity committee has been formed to review and rationalize the size of the government to achieve optimal and smart organisational structures including a review of state-owned entities and corporations having redundant or overlapping functions.
Getting let go off a job or a cut on salary is a traumatic experience. It’s a kind of discarded feeling, especially in light of the tough situation in which we have landed now.
The NAC has been tasked with trying to slash the salaries of government employees by 10 percent across the board, which is not good for the political health of the incumbent government and its people.
In the view of current financial crunches, sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities and rising inflation will definitely decline the morale and productivity of government employees.
The government needs to give resolute attention to the problems of employees when it comes to the pay of its employees. The reduction in salaries is tantamount to negative justice perception among the government employees, which mostly leads to the protests, needs to be addressed with a fairy pay structure.