Monday December 06, 2021

Budget debate in NA: Budget will bring storm of worst inflation, says Ahsan

June 23, 2021
Budget debate in NA: Budget will bring storm of worst inflation, says Ahsan

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said the federal budget if passed in the present form would bring a storm of worst price hike and inflation with increase in electricity and gas tariffs and indirect taxation.

Taking part in the budget debate, Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that reservations of the opposition parties regarding increased budget deficit, non-realistic revenue collection targets and increasing inflation as a result of measures proposed by the government always came true in the last three years. “Our apprehensions regarding mini-budget after announcement of the annual budget also came true during tenure of the present government,” he said.

The PML-N leader said the fourth budget of the incumbent regime was not different from the last three budgets as this time again the government announced non-realistic target which were unlikely to be achieved. “The government has set a revenue collection target of Rs5,829 billion and a fiscal deficit at 6.3% which will be revised again as happened in the past,” he observed, adding that the budget deficit would reach a percentage of 8 to 9%.

He regretted that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan had come down from 3 billion dollars to 1.5 billion dollars where FDI in Myanmar is 4 to 6 billion dollars. Ahsan Iqbal said that bad policies of the present government in the last three years had crushed economic gains and the regime had not been able to give any development plan for the country. He claimed that there were no menaces like loadshedding and terrorism when the PMLN left the government in 2018 and at the same time regretted that that the PTI regime has not been able to complete the 12th five-year development programme. “We are passing through a non-planned period when the government is directionless and without any vision for economic growth,” he said.

He said the government has only one plan that its leaders should use abusive language and criticise the past governments. “They can only say that no NRO will be given and opponents are threatened that they will be put in jails,” he said.

He regretted that Pakistan was the only country in the world, where the prime minister while addressing at international forums say that Pakistan was the most corrupt state in the world. “Such policies followed by our rulers discouraged the international investors,” he said.

He observed that the present government was punishing 220 million people of the country by character assassination of the last PMLN regime. “The incumbents are earning bad name for the country in the cover of character assassination of the last PMLN Government,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal also ridiculed some claims made by the finance minister on floor of the National Assembly on Monday, saying that Pakistan was net food importer three years as production of many commodities like wheat and sugar were in surplus.

The PML-N leader said the same finance minister, who few days back was saying that economic policies of the government including 13% policy rate had played havoc with the country, claimed only on Monday that the Pakistan was on right track to economic development. “Either that Shaukat Tarin was speaking true or this Shaukat Tarin is right who is showing us pictures of heaven,” he said. He told the finance minister that the PMLN government left behind gold mine in the shape of CPEC and not landmines which he talked about on Monday. “I will tell the House as to how the present government mired the country in debt mines and debt trap,” he said.

He said the government through mud-slinging made the CPEC as controversial and trying to close the project which was bound to become game changer in the region. “Now the Chinese companies have moved to Iran with 400 billion dollars investment,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal also came harsh on Prime Minister Imran Khan for saying that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was negotiable if Kashmir issue is resolved. “Pakistan’s nuclear programme is non-negotiable either Kashmir issue is resolved or not,” the PMLN leader maintained.

Ali Gohar Baloch of PMLN said the party, which came to power after stealing 2018 elections, could never bring stability in the country it would create instability in the political system. He also questioned as to why those involved in foreign funding, Pindi Ring Road project and sugar scam have not been held accountable and apprehended.

Shazia Marri said the budget is anti-people and anti-farmers, adding the figures have been fudged in the budget documents.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday offered opposition parties to sit with the government on vital issues of electoral and judicial reforms.

Taking part in budget debate, he advised the opposition to give up negative politics and give it input on key national issues. The minister pointed that the government had proposed 49 amendments in the Elections Act to including introduction of electronic voting machines. However, he said the opposition could also come up with its proposals for electoral reforms.

But he observed that the opposition parties had started hue and cry two years before elections while accusing that polls would be rigged because they knew that they would not be able to deliver. "None of the opposition parties will be able to field more than 450 candidates for over 1100 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the next general elections," he said.

Fawad Chaudhry, however, asked the opposition to first decide as to who was their leader. "This is a scattered opposition which calls Fazlur Rehman as it's leader but takes dictation from somewhere else," he said.

He said the opposition has been targeting personality of Imran Khan but his popularity was increasing with the passage of time.

He also challenged the opposition to bring its alternate budget if it was not agreed with government's budget proposals. Dubbing the period of 2008-18 as a period of darkness for Pakistan, Chaudhary Fawad Hussain said the previous governments ruined the economy through their policies. He pointed out that the country’s loans were Rs6000 billion by the year 2008 which increased to Rs26 billion by 2018. He said today the situation is that the government was paying Rs2000 billion per year in debt servicing.

In addition, he said Rs900 billion are being paid as capacity payments to the power plants which will increase to 1500 billion rupees by 2023.

The minister said under the 18th Amendment, a big share of revenue goes to the provinces and in this connection Rs1600 to 1700 billion went to the Sindh province over the last two years under the NFC award but he questioned as to where the money was spent.

He said another 700 to 750 billion rupees will go to the province during the next fiscal year. He, however, regretted that the provincial government there has done nothing worthwhile for provision of basic amenities to the people. He said this is the reason that the prime minister has stood up against corruption.

The information minister said that two political families have been responsible for increase in the budget deficit as they laundered money to purchase flats in London and procure properties in Canada, Dubai and other countries.

Ali Nawaz Awan said the entrepreneurs are appreciative of the government's pro-business policies. He said, “We have given incentives to the export oriented industries to make their products competitive in the international market.” He said it was due to industrial policies of the incumbent government that auto, cement and other industries were now standing on their feet.

He criticised performance of the Sindh government, saying that the 60% development funds meant for province remain unutilised.