LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The federal budget for 2021-22 is full of promises based on ambitious increase in tax revenue.
Some budget measures have pleased the trade and industry but as far as the common man is concerned it contains nothing that could assure that there would be decline in prices. In fact the finance minister felt proud that the wheat rates have increased globally by 54 percent and by only 29 percent in Pakistan. He conveniently ignored the fact that the increase in wheat rates was from last years’ high base but if we compare the rates with a year earlier the increase in very high. Similarly increase in sugar prices is compared with current increase in the commodity rate.
Trade and industry reaction was both appreciative of some measures while critical on others. President SAARC Chamber and Central Chairman United Business Group (UBG) Iftikhar Ali Malik hailed the epoch-making historic reforms for ease of doing business. He said that the remarkable measures announced in the budget would help set a proper direction for the national economy to flourish as well as uplift poor segments of the society.
Appreciating the decision of the Prime Minister Imran Khan not to increase power and gas tariff or levy new taxation would ultimately provide solace to the business community, while incentives packages would help accelerate the economic activities in the country and boost exports.
Trade leaders said gas and power rates have not been increased for now. They say no measures have been announced to make the system efficient. At current inefficiency levels the rates would have to be increased. The increase in minimum wage from Rs17,500 to Rs20,000 was not taken in good stride by the exporters. Those employing 4,000-10,000 workers in the apparel industry would be booting an additional salary bill of Rs1 million to Rs2.5 million per month. The exporters are looking for subsidies from the government and they are getting subsidised power and energy. They say the additional salary bill would nullify the advantage they currently enjoy.
There is no denying the fact that an increase in wages was essential because of the increase in cost of living in the past three years.
While addressing a Press Conference after federal budget speech, the LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah, flanked by other office bearers, said that reduction in regulatory duties on raw materials will bring down the cost of doing business. The LCCI office bearers said that reduction in regulatory duty will boost competitiveness of the industrial sector.
The business community of Rawalpindi and Islamabad has termed the financial budget 2021-22 as balanced and business-friendly.
The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce (RCCI) president Mohammad Nasir Mirza said the budget is balanced. He said the tax revenue target of Rs5,800 billion can be achieved only when new taxpayers are added. He said that businessmen have reservations about proposing a third party audit. He said that relief of Rs42 billion in terms of customs duty is welcome.
Group Leader Sohail Altaf said that Rs900 billion has been earmarked for the development program which will increase economic activities.