Reshaping of budget

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NATIONAL Assembly on Wednesday approved the Rs 9.6 trillion rupee federal budget for the next fiscal year with some measures such as petroleum development levy of up to Rs 50 expected to stoke further inflation that the Finance Ministry has projected to skyrocket to 15.5% in June.

There is no denying that tough days are ahead and the people have to face more price hike.

However, what was really surprising and shocking for many was the number of amendments introduced in the Finance Bill which, in fact, changed the whole look of the budget presented earlier on the tenth of June.

Though it is really welcoming that most of the recommendations furnished by the Senate were also incorporated, yet in our view, bringing such wholesale changes in the Finance Bill at the last moment only leaves a negative impression about the Government working and its decision making.

An amendment to take back the relief provided to the salaried class especially bringing back the tax exemption limit to six hundred thousand rupees from 1.2 million rupees and other tax measures amounting to one trillion rupees have definitely been taken to satisfy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but if these were required then these should have been announced in the original Finance Bill as it would have demonstrated the clarity on the part of the Government.

The Government has been in negotiations with the IMF since coming to power, it should have been clear as to how far it can extend relief and what tax measures are required to take forward the country.

Whilst an effort has been made to bring more sectors into the tax net with measures such as taxes imposed on retailers, restaurants etc, yet those already paying taxes have been further burdened-something which needs to be reviewed.

Given the challenges faced by the country on the economic front, there are no two opinions that all the sectors and the affluent class honestly pay taxes.

We stand with the vision of PM Shehbaz Sharif of taking the country towards self reliance, for which difficult decisions have to be made, however, to achieve this goal, there should be clarity of purpose and the focus must be on bringing much needed political stability.

 

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