ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties Friday rejected the budget 2017-18, alleging it was again designed to add to the wealth of the unproductive wealthy, denying any meaningful relief to the hard-pressed masses.
PTI senior leader and MNA Asad Umar termed the new budget a continuation of failed policies of the PML-N government, alleging a reverse Robin Hood strategy was being followed to the benefit of the wealthy and unproductive elite.
Asad Umar stated that Nawaz Sharif made huge claims of ending loadshedding from the country before coming to power, but after holding the reins of power for four years and spending billions on advertisements, the shortfall in May 2017 was more than that of May 2013.
The PTI leader also criticized bogus claims of self-reliance by Nawaz Sharif as surge in national debt reflects the falsehood of these claims. During five years of Zardari era Rs8 trillion were added to public debt, whereas in three years and nine months, the Sharif government has increased debt by Rs8 trillion.
He said that external debt of the country increased from dollars 61billion to dollars 76billion in less than four years of Sharif rule. One of the key reasons was the collapse of exports which have reduced from dollars 25billion to dollars 20billion in this period which is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.
He said that Nawaz Sharif used to pledge that once in government he would restore investor’s trust through transparency and exemplary policies. He also used to assure that he will focus on the establishment of new industries in Pakistan which would result in massive employment opportunities and poverty alleviation.
“The facts and figures portray a grim picture of investment which has been on the average the lowest in the last thirty years of any government. Despite the new investment in the wake of CPEC the current foreign investment remains lower than even the previous government,” he said.
Asad Umar said that while PM Nawaz Sharif in his election campaign promised to bring reforms and competent professionals in institutions to strengthen governance. The fact is that Pakistan Steel Mills, has been closed for last 23 months.
He noted, “PIA has become a tale of plunder, loot, corruption led by a person put on ECL by Nawaz Sharif government itself and the cumulative debt of state-owned institutions is nearly double of when the PML-N assumed power.
Asad Umar stressed that the fact was that in the four years of PML-N government, it had reduced direct taxes and increased indirect taxes, which effected the poor and middle class.
PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, before the presentation of the budget, said that the incumbent government was going to present its last budget and would try its level best to present a rosy picture about the national economy.
He strongly condemned the use of force violence against farmers at D-Chowk and called for their immediate release, saying farmers are the backbone of the national economy.
PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik, while rejecting the budget, said that a good budget was supposed to give relief to the masses and any budget, which was not giving any relief to the people, was not the budget but a burden to the poor masses.
He regretted that indirect taxes have been imposed on the people for which their suffering will be increased. He further said inflation will increase which will result in price hike. He regretted that the government was running on ad hocism.
Malik further said nothing has been given to the government employees in the budget which will further add to their woes. He regretted that today poor farmers were beaten up by the government machinery for registering their protest.
“Beside foreign debts, government was taking loans from the local banks,” he added. MQM-Pakistan rejected the budget 2017-18. Party chief Dr Farooq Sattar called the budget ‘status quo budget’. He said that taxes have been piled up on the poor. He demanded that the ratio of sales tax should be reduced from 17 percent to nine percent.
“Petroleum levy should be ended along with sales tax,” he added. “There is nothing for the youth, women, non-Muslims in the current budget,” he regretted. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) ameer Senator Sirajul Haq termed budget proposals as ‘ old wine in new bottle’ which carry no relief for the common man.
In his reaction to finance minister’s speech, the JI top leader said the budget prepared on dictations of IMF and World Bank, has given the masses nothing but disappointment. He said that in the cover of increase in volume of the Public Sector Development Programme to over Rs1.1 trillion, the government wanted to release its parliamentarians Rs50 million each so that they could spend the same amount on their campaign for the next general elections.
He observed that the government was spending 60 percent of total growth on payment of loans and interest while there were no funds available for infrastructure development and social sector.
Sirajul Haq asked the government to improve its tax-collection system by bringing at least three million non-filers including traders, industrialists, businessmen and others in the tax net.
He pointed out that except from CPEC, there has been no significant increase foreign investment in Pakistan while there was also three percent reduction in remittances received from overseas Pakistanis.
Our correspondent adds from Lahore: PML-Q senior central leader and former deputy premier Pervaiz Elahi terming the new federal budget anti-people said the PML-N government instead of providing relief is continuously giving pains to all segments including the poor, farmers, workers and traders.
He further said increase in salary and pension of government servants is very low as compared to price hike. “Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar should stop pleasing Indian farmers, rulers’ Kissan packages are false which have been reduced to ‘Patwari’ packages as they will not get anything even from new budget and electricity prices will also not come down,” he said in a statement.
Online adds: Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri has said in reaction to the federal budget that it will turn "begging bowl into a cauldron".In a statement issued here on Friday, he said the finance minister has the reputation of building castles in the air and all the figures projected by him are needed to be verified. He said the farmer-friendly government beat farmers before announcing the budget. He questioned the government claim of economic stability when there is an increase of billions of rupees in foreign debt, unemployment, reduction in direct foreign investment, exports, and health and education facilities. He said the elite culture led to increase in corruption and off-shore business culture. He said there is no policy announced in the budget bringing back the laundered money from foreign and Swiss banks.