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Friday July 19, 2024

PPP senator demands revision of budget

Awan criticised the budget and claimed that it hardly offered anything to the common man

By Mumtaz Alvi
June 22, 2024
Senator Shahadat Awan can be seen in this image.—X/@SenShahadatAwan
 Senator Shahadat Awan can be seen in this image.—X/@SenShahadatAwan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Shahadat Awan Friday called for revision of the budget for financial year 2024-25, and suggested that administrative budget for two months might be passed till completion of revision proves.

While taking part in the ongoing discussion in the upper house of the parliament, he criticised the budget and claimed that it hardly offered anything to the common man, and the salaried class, who were burdened with more taxes. He proposed that discussions on the budgetary proposals must continue for a longer period and allocations for administrative purposes may be passed for two months.

“It is strange that the budget for such a big country is being passed in just 14 days. There would have been no issue in its passage in two weeks had the major parties been consulted before budget making,” he noted and stressed for its revision. He insisted for upward revision of salaries of the government employees, keeping in view inflation factor.

Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) lawmaker Samina Mumtaz Zehri demanded the government renegotiate agreements with the independent power producers (IPPs) to reduce the growing burden of capacity payments on masses. She feared new agreements on IPPs under CPEC would be even worse.

Senator Zehri said employees in one to 16 grades must be exempted from additional taxes and questioned the logic behind punishing masses for controversial and costly IPP agreements.

Senator Bilal Ahmed Mandokhel of PPP rejected outright the argument advanced by the government that people did not pay taxes. He pointed out that in 2009-10, the tax revenues were around Rs1,500 billion, while the government expenditure was Rs2,400bn. He said the expected tax collection now was Rs9,400bn and the government expenses were projected at Rs11,000bn. He noted that Pakistan would not be able to pay back its loans in next 100 years if the government expenses were not curtailed.

Various senators called for a broader dialogue to evolve consensus on long-term consistent economic policy to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and shore up economy in view of alarming financial scenario. They shared consensus that the frequent change in policies shattered trust of investors.

Senator Amir Waliuddin Chishti of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP) emphasised the country should have an economic policy for the next 25 to 30 years, which should be endorsed by the parliament and the National Security Council.

Senator Muhammad Qasim of Balochistan National Party regretted that 77 years had been wasted and questioned, “would we never change this approach for a country, which has matchless resources and all the federating units want development and prosperity”.

He lamented that never in any budget, attention was paid on how to enhance income of public and instead they were taxed further. He regretted that the power tariff had been hiked to a level the manufacturers find it difficult to compete in the international market.

Sajid Mir of PMLN supported privatisation of loss-making state-owned enterprises, including PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills. He called for paying attention to IT sector and said if India could earn $200 billion revenue from IT exports, how come Pakistan couldn’t earn just $20 billion initially.

Zeeshan Khanzada of PTI said the private sector and businesses should be fully facilitated to uplift the economy. He said overseas Pakistanis should be given confidence to invest in Pakistan. He insisted on political stability, a prerequisite for economic stability and growth, but regretted that nothing was being done and instead a federal minister said Imran Khan should remain in jail for next five years. Responding to him, PMLN’s Afnanullah Khan endorsed his view that there should be political stability, but claimed there should not be dichotomy in what is stated and what is done. He noted that the PSDP for the next fiscal year envisaged important initiatives such as establishment of IT Parks and substantial allocations for water reservoirs.