BY PRESENTING a balanced budget for the next financial year, PTI Government has lived up to its promise of providing relief to different segments of the society, ensure accelerated growth and increase job opportunities through a combination of measures.
The budget unfolded by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin having a total outlay of 8,487 billion rupees, is, no doubt, people and business friendly as well as growth oriented.
The Government had its own limitations due to fiscal challenges but it is also a fact that a party that came into power with votes from the people cannot ignore their difficulties and aspirations.
The masses, who were under great pressure due to sky-rocketing prices of almost all items and services were legitimately expecting a relief and the Government has not disappointed them.
Though the quantum of relief provided to the salaried class and pensioners (10 percent raise) is not enough but it would, to some extent, mitigate their sufferings.
It is hoped that they would be properly compensated commensurate with inflationary trends after the Government receives final report of the Pay and Pension Committee.
The proposal to increase the minimum wage to twenty thousand rupees would also go a long way help ease the inflationary pressures on the low income groups.
Incentives have also been announced for various sectors of the economy including agriculture for which a transformational plan has been devised to increase productivity.
Under this plan, support will be provided from water to seeds, fertilizer, agri-credit, tractors and machinery, commodity warehousing, cold storage and food processing industry.
The budget envisages proposals for investment in establishment of Special Economic Zones, supporting new exports in IT sector and agro-based industries to increase exports.
It also seeks to make CPEC a platform where industries will be relocated providing employment opportunities and bolster our exports.
It is also encouraging that Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to change the course of the history by uplifting four to six million low income households through bottom-up approach from next year.
Every household will be provided 500,000 rupees interest free business loans and every farming household will be given 250,000 rupees interest free farming loan and 200,000 rupees for tractors and machineries.
These families will be provided with low interest housing loans up to two million rupees so that they can build their houses besides provision of a Sehat Card and free technical training.
This means a comprehensive package to the low-income group people; slogan of which was raised by many leaders in the past but nothing was delivered.
Keeping in view the incentives that the Government has offered for agriculture, housing and industry, it is highly likely that the GDP growth rate of 4.8 percent for the next financial year would easily be achieved especially when the federal developmental allocations have also been increased by 40 percent to 900 billion rupees.
The country cannot grow and prosper until and unless there is substantial increase in revenue collection and every citizen pays his or her taxes honestly.
Towards fulfilment of this objective, FBR revenues are projected to grow by 24 percent from 4691 billion rupees to 5829 billion rupees while non-tax revenues are projected to grow by 22 percent.
The new budget also envisages a number of tax incentives and exemptions for various sectors to promote business activities and provide relief to the general public.
The Government has announced to exempt cars upto 850 cc capacity from levy of federal excise duty and reduce sales tax rate from existing 17 to 12.5 but it should be ensured that the substantial relief given is passed on to the customers.
Incentives for IT sectors are in line with demands of the professionals and it would surely give boost to IT exports.
It is hoped that the budgetary proposals would be made more relevant to the aspirations and demands of the people in the light of the debate to be held in the parliament.