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“The government has withdrawn the zero-rated tax facility on the pressure of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], and this will not only reduce the exports but also increase unemployment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.”


‘They have crushed our voices’, Kashmiris on not being allowed to pray

Updated 5 min 26 sec ago
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‘They have crushed our voices’, Kashmiris on not being allowed to pray

  • More than 3,000 people have been arrested from different parts of the valley, media reports
  • Most of the big mosques have been shutdown to avoid people amassing for a large congregation

SRINAGAR, Kashmir: A strange silence engulfs Kashmir valley three weeks after the abrogation of the Article 370 that ensured a special autonomous status for Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian union.
This is the silence enforced by the fear of the gun after arrests of a large number of politicians, activists, lawyers, businessmen, and commoners.
“I have been summoned at least four times by the Indian troops and harassed, barring me from offering my prayers. I requested them, explaining that no one indulges in agitation in this area...” Hafiz Altaf Ahmed Shah, an imam at the local mosque told Arab News.
Media reports suggest that more than 3,000 people have been arrested from different parts of the valley and put in special detention centers in the semi-autonomous state or outside.
For those spared or lucky to avoid arrest, a lurking danger looms if they resist – be it a cleric or a professor, male or female, exercising restraint is the only option left.
In Srinagar and outside, most of the big mosques have been shutdown to avoid people amassing for a large congregation – a potential recipe for resistance.
“Our three story mosque is usually at full capacity but today, only 10 to 12 people offered Friday prayers because of the curfew,” Shah said.
Small and medium-sized mosques are under constant vigil. The clerics of these mosques have been ordered to lie low and not lead prayers in their mosques.
“We are being subjected to injustice by the Indian government and the world is aware. But no one is speaking on these issues. They have shut down our communication. They have silenced and crushed our voices,” Shah said.
Watch this exclusive video by Arab News to get a sense of what’s happening in the area.