PML-N leader and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday described the budget presented by the federal government for next fiscal year as “ATM budget”, saying it was based on “lies” and would benefit those who had “plundered the national wealth”.
Addressing a news conference in Karachi along with former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Abbasi noted that new taxes worth Rs383 billion had been imposed in the new budget. “Of these, Rs265 billion are the indirect taxes which clearly means that once again the poor will be burdened.”
He said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin’s speech on budget in the National Assembly was the same as he had delivered 12 years ago during the tenure of the PPP government.
“Ever since the PTI government came to power it imposed new taxes worth Rs1,200 billion and had devalued the national currency by 35%,” he said.
“This is an ATM budget which only benefits [PM] Imran’s ATMs who rob the country and give benefit to him,” he added.
The PML-N leader negated the government’s claims of income generation saying they were not backed by a concrete source to achieve that target.
“The entire budget for fiscal year 2021-22 is based on lies. In its last three years, the government could not even increase its net income by 20% and now they claim to boost the same by 24% in the new fiscal year,” he said.
Abbasi said the government had “illegally” altered the accounting system by converting the sales of assets into revenues and making them a part of the budget.
“The budget says that Rs252 billion will be obtained from privatisation. The [budget] figures are shown as government income, which is illegal as proceeds from selling assets cannot be termed revenue.”
He said on the one hand the government claimed that the budget was growth-driven while on the other it was saying that Rs570 billion of the development funds would be withdrawn from provinces.
“How will the provinces share revenue by curtailing their development when the provincial surplus was Rs240 billion previously and now it is Rs570 billion. This exposes the lie of being a growth-driven budget,” he said.
“This is the truth behind the claim of additional Rs1,150 billion revenue that Rs252 billion will come from selling the assets, Rs570 billion after compromising the development of provinces and Rs383 billion from new taxes. In real term, there is no increase in revenue collection and this is nothing more than a circus of numbers,” he added.
He maintained that the government could not achieve the tax revenue targets without increasing the price of petrol and diesel by at least Rs30 per litre.