The National Assembly continued discussion on the budget for next fiscal year on Thursday. Participating in the debate, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari said that the government and the opposition should sit together and formulate a long-term economic policy for the country.
He said the government has enhanced salaries of employees in the budget but increasing tax on them has only offset the benefit of that raise. He said those already paying taxes should not be further burdened.
He said steps need to be taken to restore the confidence of industrialists and businessmen.
The PPP Co-Chairperson also thanked the speaker for issuing his production orders.
Taking part in the debates, Asad Umar of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf said the economic team of government has made an excellent effort of presenting the best possible budget in difficult economic situation.
He said we should make utmost efforts to strengthen and uplift the agriculture sector in order to bolster the country’s exports. He said EOBI pensions should also be increased from ten to fifteen percent.
He said vulnerable segments of the society and middle class should be fully protected. He suggested that taxes on sugar, edible oil and small cars should not be enhanced.
Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh of PML (N) criticized government’s economic policies saying these have resulted in depreciation of rupee. He said the government should support the industries to enhance exports.
Ghous Bux Khan Mahar of Grand Democratic Alliance said efforts should be made to improve law and order situation in Sindh province. He said federal government should support Sindh government in provision of clean drinking water to the people.
Naveed Qamar of PPP said it is appreciable that the government has increased the budget of Benazir Income Support Program but said that more steps need to be taken to protect the poor segments of the society. He said increase in the taxes on CNG and LNG will add to the woes of common man.
Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said the PML (N) and the PPP are responsible for leaving the economy in dire straits. He said the people have not yet forgotten the Model town tragedy in which innocent people were killed.
Shafqat Mahmood said the previous governments also did not pay any attention to improve the health and education systems in the country. He said the PTI government will bring a single national curriculum to promote unity and harmony. He said we will also strengthen economy and improve governance system and the country will be taken forward on the path of development. Salahuddin of MQM said difficult economic situation warrants that the political parties stand by the government to free the country from debt trap and stabilize the economy. He said instead of rhetoric, the opposition parties should give concrete suggestions on the budget. He said previous governments did nothing to put the country on the path of sustainable development. He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf is the party which cares for the common people and the middle class and standing firm against corruption. He said this is the reason that the MQM is standing by the government. He was confident that the present government will steer the country out of difficult economic situation.
Aisha Ghaus Pasha of PML-N said the government has further enlarged the debt trap by taking unprecedented loans in just ten months. She said it would be difficult to achieve the revenue target of over five thousand billion rupees. She said at present, the Federal Board of Revenue is facing a shortfall of 500 billion rupees and economy is showing negative growth in all major sectors. She said massive taxation would increase miseries of the common people. She said 70 percent of the budget is consumed in debt servicing due to mismanagement of the government. She urged the government to change the budget strategy and reduce tax burden should by 500 billion rupees.
Responding to Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said she left budget deficit of 1300 billion rupees in Punjab, when she was the provincial minister there. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the government presented a balanced budget, despite inheriting a crisis-ridden economy. He said that the previous PML-N government has ruined all institutions like PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills, while rulers’ own airline and steel mills progressed by leaps and bounds.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan said no new dam was constructed during the previous governments of PML-N and the PPP. He said PML-N took huge loans and spent them on showy projects like metro bus, orange line train, underpasses, bridges, and constructing a fence around rulers’ residence in Lahore.
Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiyar said projects of worth 76 billion have been prioritized for Balochistan in the development budget to bring the province at par with developed parts of the country. He said development and progress of Balochistan is the top priority of the government.
Those, who spoke on the occasion, include Ali Pervaiz, Alia Hamza, Sahibzada Sibghatullah, Shahida Rehmani, Aftab Jahangir, Hashim Khan, Romina Khurshid Alam, Asma Hadeed, and Sajid Mehdi.
The House will now meet at ten in the morning tomorrow [Friday].