Opposition parties reject budget plan as anti-people, IMF-dictated

Shehbaz Sharif, second from left, the PML-N president and brother of Nawaz Sharif, speaks during a news conference as Fazal ur Rehm Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam party leader looks on after an All Parties Conference in Islamabad on July 27, 2018. (Reuters/File)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Opposition parties reject budget plan as anti-people, IMF-dictated

  • Pakistan Peoples Party’s chair says will work with other opposition parties to ensure budget isn’t approved by parliament
  • Opposition politicians hold up placards saying “IMF budget not accepted” as revenue minister delivers budget speech

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition parties on Tuesday termed the federal budget for fiscal year to June 2020 “anti-people” and dictated by the terms of an International Monetary Fund loan, adding that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had no roadmap or policy to provide relief to common Pakistanis facing the brunt of a ballooning economic crisis.
Pakistan has announced a Rs8.2 trillion budget with the next year, with a tax revenue target of Rs5.5 trillion, a 25 percent increase from the Rs4.4 trillion target set in last year’s budget.
As Revenue Minister Hammad Azhar unveiled the budget, members of the opposition parties chanted slogans against the government and held up placards that read: “IMF budget not accepted.”
Opposition politicians rejected the government’s claim that the budgetary proposals were focused on economic stability and sustainable growth and said the government’s vision would increase inflation and unemployment.
“This budget will bring a tsunami of new taxes and storm of inflation. We along with other opposition parties will try our best that this anti-people budget is not passed by the National Assembly,” Pakistan Peoples Party’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said while talking to reporters after the budget session.
Pervaiz Malik, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said the government had abolished a zero-rated tax regime on the export-oriented industry which would result in the reduction of the exports.
“The government has withdrawn the zero-rated tax facility on the pressure of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], and this will not only reduce the exports but also increase unemployment in the industrial sector,” he told Arab News, referring to a $6 billion bailout package that Pakistan is hoping the Fund will give final approval to.
Malik said the government had increased taxes on items of daily use including sugar, beverages and milk, and revised down the income tax limit for government employees from annual Rs1.2 million to Rs0.6 million.
“The PTI government has failed to keep its election promises of providing relief to the common man, and it stands fully exposed with this budget,” he said.
Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, a lawmaker from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal religious alliance, said the government had increased taxes on everything, but failed to increase budgetary allocations for education and health.
“There is nothing in this budget," he told Arab News. "In short, this is the IMF’s budget and we totally reject it.”


Pakistani PM names army chief to new national development council

Updated 18 June 2019
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Pakistani PM names army chief to new national development council

  • New body will formulate policies, approve long-term planning, provide guidelines for regional cooperation
  • The formal inclusion of the army chief in a development policy-making body is an unprecedented move

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the establishment of a new high-powered government body, the National Development Council (NDC), of which the country’s all-powerful army chief will be a member, a federal government notification issued on Tuesday said.
The memo said Khan would chair the eleven-member council comprising federal ministers, provincial chief ministers and federal secretaries. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s formal inclusion in the body is unprecedented even by Pakistani standards, a country in which the military has ruled for almost half its history.
The council includes the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Minister for Finance/Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Federal Minister for Commerce/Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries & Production and Investment, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Foreign Affairs Division, Secretary, Finance Division, Secretary, Planning, Development & Reforms Division and the four provincial chief ministers.
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister, and the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan will be also be members of the body on invitation. The additional secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office will be the secretary of the council.
Defining the terms of reference (ToRs) of the council, the notification said it would set “policies and strategies for development, formulate and trailer policies to achieve accelerate economic growth, approve long term planning for national and regional connectivity and provide guidelines for regional cooperation.”