National Assembly session to vote on ‘mini-budget’ underway amid protest

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ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly is all set to meet today with the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, popularly known as the mini-budget, on its agenda.

A debate on the bill was to be held on Monday but the focus of the session was shifted to Murree tragedy, where 23 people froze to death after their vehicles got stuck on roads due to heavy snowfall.

A heated session is expected as the Opposition has been continuously slamming the government for presenting the mini-budget, which they claim will trigger inflation in the country.

Opposition warned that the country would witness high inflation, poverty and unemployment if the government approved a supplementary finance bill and imposed new taxes of Rs343 billion to meet the International Monetary Fund’s conditions to revive a $6 billion loan programme.

The government has proposed to withdraw tax exemptions on over 150 items and impose 17 percent general sales tax across the board.

The government is confident that the finance bill will be approved by the National Assembly today.  Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said the Finance Supplementary Bill will be easily passed in the National Assembly today.

On Dec 30, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin presented the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 and State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the National Assembly amid ruckus created by the joint opposition.

The IMF was originally scheduled to review Pakistan’s progress on January 12 in its board meeting to release a $1 billion tranche. However, the meeting was postponed at the request of Pakistan as the process since the bills are yet to be passed by National Assembly.

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