Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said on Friday that the budget presented for the FY21-22 was the “budget of hope” for the underprivileged, so that they are “looked after like in the state of Madinah”.
The PTI-led third fiscal budget, that has been debated for more than 40 hours, had been a subject of arduous National Assembly (NA) sessions and objections by the opposition.
Minister Tarin’s remarks came during the concluding session of the budget debate in the lower house of the parliament.
He said the current budget would revive hope in the lower income strata of society; “hope that had been taken away from them,” he added. “Not only this, but the economy would also flourish,” the minister promised.
Tarin added that electricity tariffs would not be increased because Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to reduce the financial burden on the underprivileged.
“We [the government] will use out-of-the-box thinking to reduce the circular debt, reduce losses and increase recoveries. Indeed, it is a great challenge.”
He added that due to the previous government’s actions, the current account deficit had increased and had left the PTI government no option but to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Tarin said the IMF placed strict conditions when Pakistan approached it, following which the coronavirus pandemic affected the country’s economy.
Talking about the electronic voting system, the finance minister said that Rs5 billion had been allocated for the electronic electoral process for ‘transparent elections in the country.’
Read Ministers robustly defend ‘best’ budget
“This sector helps propagate 40 other industries and provises employment,” he added.
Minister Tarin added that incentives had also been given to the construction sector, as there was no foreclosure law before due to which the housing mortgage was less than 0.5 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Talking about taxes, he said that fixed and easy schemes had been introduced for the small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), whereas Rs100 billion loan at nine per cent (interest) had also been allocated.
The minister added that tax exemptions had also been given to the IT sector in order for its exports to increase.
There would be a tax of Rs0.75 whilst talking over the cell phone, but there would be no tax on an SMS and mobile internet.
He said that harassment by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was a problem due to which taxpayers do not file their returns. The government plans to set up a third party system with a legal structure whereas the taxpayer would not be arrested.
“Will only conduct an audit and talk to the taxpayer,” he said.
Minister Tarin again emphasised on increasing the country’s exports to reduce the fiscal deficit.
“We have to give back in dollars and that would only be possible when we increase our exports,” he said.
The finance minister further announced that taxes for the textile industry had been reduced from 12 per cent to 10 per cent.
We would give targeted subsidies for sugar, wheat and edible oil as well, he added. Tax on dairy products was also being withdrawn.
Tax on 1000cc cars would be reduced, he added.
“The purpose [of this budget] is to create a welfare state that ensures justice for all and in which the downtrodden are looked after. We have taken steps through this budget that would realise this vision and would enable us to have a bright future,” Minister Tarin said.