ISLAMABAD: Calling the current government a gambler who has lost everything, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government has become ‘deaf and dumb’ towards the needs of the people of Pakistan.
Speaking outside the National Assembly after the budget speech, Nisar said that people across Pakistan do not have access even to basic necessities.
“Zardari and his team are always travelling abroad whenever Pakistan is going through rough times,” he said.
He added that corruption has reached its peak during the last four years and the people in power are busy looting the country.
The leader of the opposition also said that despite failing to meet any of its targets from the last year’s budget, the government has shamelessly presented a new one. “When people fail, they admit their failure, but this government just does not want to let go of their seats,” Nisar lamented.
Accepting that the nature of the protest by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was inappropriate, Nisar said that the government called for it.
“Since they [PPP-led government] have failed to pay heed to the ongoing protests by frustrated Pakistanis, we decided to take their voice to the assembly,” Nisar said, adding that the “assembly was run in a democratic manner for the last four years but not anymore.”
Nisar said that PML-N will perform it’s democratic role but will also register its protest during future sessions and on the streets.
‘Missed targets for 4th time’
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, while rejecting the budget, said that the government has deceived the people. “The government has missed all its targets by a huge margin for the last four years,” he said.
“The finance minister has himself admitted to the government’s failure,” he added.
Calling four years a long time, Iqbal said that government could have changed the country entirely if they wanted to.
‘Govt should increase investment’
Commenting on the budget, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar said that petroleum levy should be abolished altogether.
The MQM leader said that in order to revive the economy and stabilise the country, government should focus on increasing investment opportunities.
“Increased investment will increase employment opportunities,” he opined.
Sattar requested the government to start an “investment support programme along with the income support programme.”
‘Budget fails to address basic problems’
Terming the budget exercise meaningless on the basis of poor performance, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Asad Omar said that the government completely ignores the budgets it presents and ends each year with no resemblance to the original budgets.
“The budget presented by the government does not address any of the fundamental structural problems faced by the country. There is nothing substantive in it which deals with the high rate of inflation, the increasing unemployment, the low savings and investment rates, the inadequate and unfair revenue base,” he stated in a press release.
Business community sees little relief
The budget comprises many popular decisions taken to get political mileage, said advisor to the Chief Minister Sindh on investment and the former KCCI president Muhammad Zubair Motiwala.
“Duty on pharmaceutical raw material has been reduced from 10% to 5%,” he mentioned pointing out that the budget has included some measures to provide relief to the industrial sector.
Motiwala said that budget states a deficit of around Rs1trillion but fails to mention the strategy to bridge the gap.
He further said that since going to IMF during an election year would be a very unpopular move, the government should have come up with a plan to deal with the mounting deficit.
Stating that the budget doesn’t address many important issues, he said power crisis is the biggest problem faced by the country today. Motiwala critcised the government that despite allotments to address the circular debt, the government has been unable to effectively solve the problem.
The government has not addressed the issue of loan repayments to the IMF and depreciating value of Pakistani rupee against US dollar, he added.
Meanwhile Siraj Kasim Teli, the chairman of the Businessmen Group (BMG) noted that the budget has continued in much the same vein as it has for the past 5-6 years.
He criticised the revision of sales tax, saying the slab for which the tax is between 20-22%, this is just a small proportion, the major component is on which the government has maintained 16% sales tax.
Though appreciating the reduction in Federal Excise Duty, Teli said that the charge was wrong on principle and should be completely abolished.
Younis Mohammad Bashir, the acting president of KCCI was fearful that the lack of solutions for the electricity crisis for the foreseeable future puts the industrial sector in jeopardy.
Mentioning that the industry was already breathing its last and unable to bear any more pressures, Bashir said that the increase in cess for gas surcharge for the export sector comes off as a move which would put an end to industries.
He was also of the view that the government had not paid heed to their demands of revising sales tax down to single digits, from 16% to 9%.