Islamabad : The announcement of several relief measures by the coalition government in the 2022-23 budget, despite severe financial constraints and external challenges, has drawn positive feedback from experts and the masses alike.
Almost all major segments of the society have got their fair share of benefits in the new budget, including slashing of duties on solar panels (17% to zero) to help the people generate their own power, withdrawing sales tax on tractors (5% to zero) and seeds (17% to zero) to boost agriculture, and expanding the reach of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to Rs364 billion.
All these measures have come at a time when, according to a recent World Bank report, the global economy is heading towards a recession, with prices of fuel and food hitting an all-time high, amidst the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, and recent COVID-related issues.
The government, despite the odds, introduced a number of budgetary measures aimed at correcting economy in tandem with providing relief to all segments of the society, including industrialists, businessmen, farmers, and most importantly the downtrodden.
Targeted subsidies have been announced to protect them with the increase in BISP''s allocation from Rs250 billion to Rs364 billion this year which will benefit nine (09) million families.
Despite several financial constraints and the fact that higher education is a devolved subject, the government allocated Rs65 billion for the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the current budget to promote higher education, which is currently 9% in the country.
To boost agriculture production, the government proposed to withdraw sales tax on the supply of tractors, agricultural implements, and various seeds, including wheat, maize, sunflowers, canola, and rice.
The initiative was widely welcomed by the farming community.
Customs duty on the import of agriculture machinery related to irrigation, drainage, harvesting, post-harvesting handling, and processing, besides plant protection equipment, machinery, and other capital goods, has also been withdrawn.
Chairman of the Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association Shahzad Ali Malik, while hailing the government decisions, said the initiatives would help boost agriculture production to ensure food security.
He lauded the decision to withdraw 17 per cent Sales Tax from the budget on all kinds of seeds.
Considering agriculture the backbone of the country’s economy, the government along with other measures, allocated Rs21 billion to increase crop yield and uplift of the livestock sector.
A progressive farmer, Pir Saddam Hussain Shah told APP that the measures would help increase output and make agri products more competitive in the international market.
The 15 percent rise in the salaries of federal government employees and a five percent increase in the pensions of retired employees, besides raising the minimum limit of tax from Rs0.6 million to Rs1.2 million will increase the take-home cash.
All Government Employees Grand Alliance (AGEGA) Chairman Haider Ali Khan Asthanizai hailed the increase and said the inflation-hit employees got a big relief.
The government has also especially incentivized the exports and industrial sectors to promote growth and investment by proposing tax relief measures in the exports sector and has provided sales tax exemptions on value-added exports, local manufacturing, and potential industrial inputs.
The tariff structure has been rationalized for synthetic filament yarn to meet the long-standing demand of the sector.
Plants and machinery imported by power generation projects that entered into implementation agreements with the Government of Pakistan have also been exempted from sales tax.
President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Muhammad Shakeel Munir said the budget 2022-23 provided relief to the industrial sector.
To boost the industrial output, the government has announced the provision of uninterrupted power supply to industries under which specific electricity feeders will be exempted from load-shedding.
Hailing the decision, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Nadeem Rauf said the country’s industrial sector required more energy to enhance its growth.
Experts believe that the measures announced in the budget will help put the ailing economy back on rails.