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April 26, 2019

Jang Economic Session: Appointment of new finance adviser ahead of budget perturbs businessmen


April 26, 2019

LAHORE: Appointment of new Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance by terminating the federal finance minister ahead of new budget has disturbed the business community, but still businessmen are hopeful that the government will give them relief in the forthcoming budget.

These views were expressed by the experts in the Jang Economic Session on ‘What should be the public expectations with new adviser to prime minister on finance for new budget’. The panellists were Ansar Javeed, Dr Qais Aslam, Huzaima Bukhari, Fahim-ur-Rehman Sehgal, Jamshed Cheema, Farhan Shehzad and Rukhsana Zafar. The session was hosted by Sikandar Lodhi.

Ansar Javeed said that budget should be chalked out keeping the debt repayment amount of $25 billion by June 2020, while increase in investment and pace of local industry production was crucial for economic stability.

He called for discouraging unnecessary imports, while no new amnesty scheme was required as tax evaders should not be facilitated. He said the Pakistan’s economy and public did not have capacity to bear burden of new Rs700 billion taxes so the government should not accept the IMF pressure for new taxes.

Dr Qais Aslam said that capital investment was required for economic growth besides FBR reforms. He said pace of growth was high in the country where research was given importance so investment in research and development was required.

He said foreign investors could not be attracted until local investors come forward. He opposed the amnesty scheme and suggested reducing the ratio of indirect taxes and spending national income on development projects.

Huzaima Bukhari said that middle class adversely affected with current economic situation so the government needed to provide relief to the general public in budget. She suggested focusing on economic growth as tax collection improved with economic activities while factually revenue authorities failed and proved incompetent to collect taxes.

She said past governments showed fake growth rate while the PTI government inherited debt burden which needed to be repaid. She said the general public would pay taxes once their economic situation improved.

Fahim-ur-Rehman Sehgal said the change in cabinet at the time of budget rendered wrong impression on the business community and the businessmen got perturbed with resignation of finance minister.

He said the business community could not afford any tax adventure at this point so the government should not impose any new taxes rather needed to give relief by relaxing the duties and taxes. He suggested increasing duties on the imported items which are being produced in Pakistan as increase in taxes will cause increase in issues.

Jamshed Cheema said the government was considering relief for the deprived segment of society in the budget and public should keep their hopes high as the next budget will not be a conventional budget.

He said that the government would revisit relief for industry, trade, and agriculture besides employment generation. Farhan Shehzad said it seemed the budget would be made according to the instructions of international institutions. He said all stakeholders should be kept in sight while making budget. He said the change of finance minister ahead of budget was not a good sign while so far the government’s performance was not encouraging.

Rukhsana Zafar said that repeated imposition of new taxes on small sectors was not good while the government should fix tax for a year for small traders which increase the revenue and ends mistrust. She called for incentives for all agriculture sectors in the budget.

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