ISLAMABAD: Amid protests by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh announced the Federal Budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 with an outlay Rs2.96 trillion. This was the fifth budget of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government.
Shaikh gave the speech with earphones plugged in, while members of PML-N encircled him and resorted sloganeering against the government. PML-N MNAs continued to ignore Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza’s call for order in the house, and chanted slogans against the government.
A scuffle also broke out between PPP and PML-N parliamentarians during the budget speech, who resorted to punching, slapping and shoving each other.
The Federal Cabinet had earlier approved the budget during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
During the speech, the finance minister announced that no new taxes will be introduced, and the income tax slabs have been brought down from 17 to 5.
Salaries of government employees have also been increased by 20%.
Shaikh also announced that the Prime Minister House will be converted into an institute for advanced studies, and the premier will live in a small house.
Express News reports that the budget brings a Rs20 billion increase for the defence sector, with an allocation of Rs264 billion for the Army. The Navy has been allocated Rs52.7 billion, which is around Rs230 million lesser than the previous budget.
The Air Force has been allocated Rs114 billion.
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According to the budget, the government will open up to 2,000 new utility stores, in an effort to provide relief to around 300,000 families.
The government has set Rs10 billion for the export development fund.
The finance minister has concluded the speech.
A list of funds allocated for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) can be read here.
The Prime Minister House will be converted into an institute for advanced studies and the prime minister will live in a small house.
“For the progress and development of solar tube-wells, subsidy will be given to them, so that the energy crisis can be curbed… No matter how much money is needed to curb the energy crisis, we will provide it,” says Shaikh.
“All items which have a GST tax of more than 16%, efforts are being done to bring their tax down to 16%.”
“We have decided to lessen the customs duty… All customs item which were in the maximum range of 35% will be brought down to 30%,” says Shaikh.
The finance minister says that Rs183 billion has been allocated to deal with the energy crisis.
The total amount of the budget for the year 2012-13 will be Rs2.96 trillion, announces Shaikh.
The income tax limit has been raised from Rs300,000 to 400,000. “For the ease of taxpayers, the slabs have been brought down from 17 to 5. This will bring relief to taxpayers.”
“The government made a sacrifice of Rs70 billion to relieve people from the rising petroleum prices,” Shaikh points out.
“Tax collection was the basic objective of the government.”
The finance minister says that the growth rate has reached up to 3.4%, adding that the country maintained economic stability without taking any loans from the IMF in those two years. “We returned $1.2 billion to IMF.”
A scuffle broke out in the National Assembly during the budget speech, with PML-N and PPP MNAs exchanging blows.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was seen at the centre of the fight.
“Power was delegated to provinces after the 18th Amendment. Around 70% of the budget was allocated to them,” says the finance minister.
The finance minister starts off speech by congratulating Gilani for being prime minister for the longest time in the history of the country.
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is standing right next to Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh. PML-N members are also standing around the finance minister holding placards.
Finance Miniser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has begun the budget speech.
Dr Fehmida Mirza has called for order in the house amidst protests and sloganeering by PML-N members. Party members are shouting “Shame, shame”.
PML-N is expected to encircle Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh during the speech to protest. Party members have also arrived inside the building with placards.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has arrived inside the National Assembly.
Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza will chair the National Assembly session.
No new tax will be introduced in the upcoming budget and the Federal Board of Revenue has been directed to make legal changes to facilitate people, reports The Express Tribune correspondent Sumera Khan.
The Federal Cabinet, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, approved a budget of Rs3.1 trillion for the year 2012-13.
Express News correspondent Khalid Mehmood reports that Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to protest during the budget session and will also stage a walk-out.
Chaudhry Nisar, speaking to reporters, said that the government has never paid heed to the opposition’s recommendations.
Express News reports that a decision has been taken to increase the salaries of government employees by 20%.
APP reports that the government has allocated Rs22,877 million for 37 development projects of the Pakistan Railways in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2012-13.
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticised the ruling government in a press conference earlier during the day and said that even after not being able to achieve targets, the government has the audacity of still staying in power.
“In the past four years, inflation has increased, loadshedding has increased. No target was achieved, the finance minister admitted this himself. If the government had any element of decency, then it wouldn’t have presented the fifth budget,” he remarked.
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