Friday October 15, 2021

Only Rs4.5b Haj subsidy withdrawn from Rs230b to other sectors

February 09, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is paying almost Rs230 billion annual subsidy to private and public sectors but has withdrawn the financial assistance of Rs4.5 billion for religious ritual of Haj only.

Besides, the government is paying another Rs55 billion subsidies and grants to Pakistan Railways, wheat subsidy to Gilgit-Baltistan and to other sectors. In total, the government is paying Rs 230 billion subsidy to different government departments/institutions as well as private sectors.

The previous government paid Rs4.5 billion subsidy to facilitate the pilgrims during Haj operations which the PTI government has withdrawn. Political parties and common people have raised questions that why the government has targeted the religious ritual for cut in subsidy whereas the remaining sectors are getting financial support, even the parliamentarians are getting subsidized food.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri told The News that in Islam, Haj is not binding for those who cannot afford it. According to him the government’s financial assistance to other sectors is to support the industry so that country’s economy could grow. He said he is against the subsidy for parliamentarians and the government should withdraw it immediately.

According to Federal Budget 2018-19 documents, the government has allocated 174.74 billion rupees for subsidies to different private and public sectors. As per the budget document, the federal government spends a fairly large sum on providing power and food subsidies in order to alleviate the impact of inflation on citizens, especially the poor segments of society.

The previous government provided Rs147.60 billion subsidies to different sectors in fiscal year 2017-18. In the budget estimates for 2017-18, subsidies were Rs138.84 billion but later it was increased to Rs147.60 billion due to increase in subsidy to KESC and subsidy to fertilizer.

The budget document shows that the government has allocated Rs134 billion subsidy to Wapda/Pepco which includes Rs105 billion to inter-disco tariff differential, Rs5 billion for tariff differential for agriculture tube wells in Balochistan, Rs12 billion to pick up Wapda/Pepco receivables from Fata and Rs12 billion subsidy to Wapda.

Similarly, Rs15.4 billion has been allocated for subsidy to KESC, Rs6 billion have been allocated for Utility Stores Corporation. The government has also allocated Rs19.04 billion for Passco which includes Rs2 billion support for sugar export.