Budget preparations and expectations

THE PML (N) government has got a rare and unprecedented
opportunity to present sixth budget in its five year constitutional term, consultations are continuing not only within the ruling party ranks but also with business community to craft the best possible finance document before entering the next polls. Meeting Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi and other party leaders in Lahore on Saturday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif stressed the need for a people friendly budget that strikes the right balance economically while not burdening the people.
Indeed before the presentation of every budget, big claims are made by the government to make it people friendly but at the end of the day, they are burdened with more taxes. It is heartening to see that PM Shahid Khaqan Abbassi from day one is emphasising for tax reforms and the government is also expected to announce a tax amnesty scheme with the aim to bring more people into the tax net. Instead of overburdening those who are already paying taxes honestly, it is time to widen the tax base by bringing more potential sectors and people into the tax net. Mere lip service will not work but for this government will have to take some difficult decisions. The government should also announce such measures in the budget that attract more investment in the country as it is vital to create job opportunities and also help achieve lofty revenue targets. Credit goes to the government that ever since assuming office, it has tried to maintain financial discipline and in the next budget it is expected to tread the same course.
As it is the last budget of incumbents, the government employees are also expecting relief in terms of enhancement in their salaries including the house hiring allowance, a raise that is long overdue. Nawaz Sharif during his meeting with PM Shahid Khaqan Abbassi also proposed to increase salaries of employees and we expect that some worthwhile raise will be given to the employees this time to help them meet inflationary trends triggered by frequent increase in petroleum prices. Finally, the present government for long has been suggesting a broad consensus on the basic economic fundamentals. We understand had this been agreed to earlier, economic profile would perhaps have been far different today. As there is still time in the presentation of next budget, the sessions of both the national assembly and the Senate could be summoned to discuss not only the next finance bill and how to make it people and business friendly but also finalise a charter to ensure continuity and stability of economic policies.

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