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June 14, 2021

Govt, opposition continue war of words on budget figures

 
June 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The government and the opposition on Sunday continued the war of words over their respective interpretations of the budget 2021-22 and insisted that they were right about the budget figures.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government's budget 2021-22 was people-friendly, and added that that this year Pakistan will grow its economy.The minister said that the government had decided to slash prices of smaller cars to benefit the common citizens.

"People who have white-collar jobs will immensely benefit from the Kamyab Jawan Programme and the government's housing projects," he said.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said PTI government is committed to progress and prosperity in the country and revolutionary relief measures have been proposed for deprived segments of society.

Speaking at a news conference in Faisalabad, he said the government has presented an excellent budget and huge funds have been allocated for the welfare projects. The minister of state said allocation for Ehsaas Programme has been increased from Rs210 billion to Rs260 billion and more beneficiaries have been registered through survey. He said Kamyab Pakistan programme is being introduced to support four to six million families.

The minister of state said ten big dams are being constructed to generate 10,000 megawatts electricity. On the other hand, the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the decision to impose nearly Rs375 billion taxes on the masses is an "injustice."

Bilawal said that the government did not spare a single item of the common man's use from taxes. "The government's decision to impose taxes on phone calls and then immediately retracting the decision shows that it is confused," said Bilawal in a statement, adding that Imran Khan's government is afraid of the public's reaction to the storm of heavy taxes imposed on them.

The PPP chairman further said that the government is "robbing people" in the name of the ‘PTIMF’ budget, implying a budget proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "I reject the government's PTIMF budget," he said.

Bilawal rejected the budget, deeming it blatant theft from the public in the name of taxes, and warned that he would continue to expose the anti-people economic measures of the government.

Former prime minister and Senior Vice President of the PMLN Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said at a press conference in Karachi that the government’s entire federal budget 2021-22 was based on lies that this government will increase the tax revenue collection by 24 percent, whereas they have not been able to meet a single revenue target set for the past two years. Former finance minister Mifta Ismail was also present at the occasion.

“This is the same government that said two years ago that the tax collection would be Rs5,555 billion, but they couldn’t even reach Rs4,000 billion,” Abbasi said, adding the revenue collection target set for 2019-20 was Rs4,963 billion, but the government managed to collect Rs4,693 billion, which was Rs300 billion less than the fixed target.

The former prime minister said ever since Imran Khan government came into power it imposed new taxes worth Rs1,200 billion and had devalued the national currency by 35 percent. Even considering these two, adding the 12 percent inflation and their combine financial effect, this government should have registered an automatic increase in revenue of at least Rs2,100 billion without doing anything. However, this government only managed around Rs800 billion only, he claimed.

“So the bigger question is that this claim of government of collecting Rs1,150 billion additional revenue, where will that come from? The entire budget of this year was based on this assumption as the finance minister kept on repeating in his speech. This claim is also extremely fictitious because it comes from a government that could not register even 20 percent revenue increase if all three years are added together,” Abbasi said.

He said the federal government is banking on the hope that the provinces will be too incompetent to spend the development budget allocated to them and will surrender that money back and the federal government will benefit from it.

The former Prime Minister also busted the government’s claim that there were no new taxes proposed in this budget. He said that the documents shared so far clearly show that new taxes of at least Rs383 billion were imposed by the government in this budget.

He said the government needs to understand that it cannot fool the people with one lie after another. This budget was another link in the same chain, Abbasi added. The former PM said this government has also imposed a 17 percent tax on industrial machinery, and questioned that how will that help increase growth when the government will cripple the industrial growth with taxation.

Another lie, he said, was that exports have increased, whereas even after devaluation and inflation, the exports of last year were less than those of 2018 which was PMLN’s last year in government. He said the prime minister, the ministers, the advisers all lie on the floor of the House but these lies won’t help the country, he said.

Talking about the trade deficit, he said when the country was growing at around 6 percent under the PMLN and CPEC was going great the trade deficit was Rs35 billion. “Another lie was about bumper crops while at the same time admitting that Pakistan was a net importer of food despite being an agricultural state,” he claimed.