ISLAMABAD: Opposition senators on Monday lambasted the federal budget as ‘anti-poor and one that would result in further inflation’ while also calling it detrimental to not just industry but social sectors as well.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani presided over the session in which opposition members also took the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to task over its recently-introduced amnesty scheme, calling it a slap in the face of the system of taxation”.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said that the budget was devised as per the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the expense of the welfare of the people of the country.
“According to the economic survey, the PTI- led government failed to achieve its economic targets in ten months. Its decisions have left the economy on the proverbial ventilator,” he remarked.
The JI senator also called for the contraction of indirect taxes while calling for an expansion in the system of direct taxation.
“Indirect taxes, which contribute to poverty, have been increased by 39 per cent. On the other hand, direct taxes, which tend to tax the rich, have only been increased by 25 per cent,” he said.
He also lamented the reduction in the budgets of health and education sectors. “The education budget has been reduced by 28%; health has witnessed a 21% decrease. Even the former tribal areas have had Rs48 billion earmarked for it instead of Rs100 billion,” he added.
Ahmed said that the government would resort to printing notes in order to address the colossal budget deficit, which would further aggravate the situation for the lower-income groups.
He also demanded of the government to provide a comprehensive roadmap for the elimination of interest from the country’s financial system, saying ‘poverty cannot end without eliminating interest’.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Chaudhry Tanvir said that the current government was reversing the gains made during the tenure of the previous government.
“Unemployment is on the rise while inflation is skyrocketing. This budget is backbreaking for the poor,” said the PML-N senator. He added that the cost of edibles as well as those used in construction was on the rise.
He also credited the PML-N government for resolving the country’s energy crisis and launching the mega China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Senator Sikandar Mandhro said that while budget making was not an easy task, while blaming the government of lack of seriousness.
“It is not a budget. It is a time bomb which will bring more high prices,” he said adding that the government was failing to address the unemployment problem,” Mandhro remarked.
PTI Senator Noman Wazir Khattak demanded the formation of a Senate committee on the ‘Charter of Economy’ in order to develop broad-based consensus. He also criticised the opposition for disregarding the damage caused to the economy due to “corrupt practices in the past”.
“There was rampant corruption in Punjab. The metro project in Lahore was developed for the rich,” he said, adding that the government would ensure that all those who plundered national wealth were held accountable.