‘PM stood firm despite IMF pressure’


ISLAMABAD:

Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tareen on Saturday said Prime Minister Imran Khan will not burden the poor man of the country and that he has defiantly resisted the conditions set by International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The finance minister was addressing the National Assembly a day after he summed up feisty bud-get proceedings. Tarin winded up the budget debate in the National Assembly and announced to reverse taxes on a host of inflationary taxation proposals.

The National Assembly passed a total of 49 demands of Rs3,088.54 billion, while 967 cut motions moved by the opposition were rejected with a majority.

Speaking to the house on Saturday, the finance minister said the incumbent government took the growth rate to 4% against all odds in the midst of challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Promising that growth will exceed the target in the next fiscal year, the minister said the tax collection target will also be achieved without burdening the poor.

The minister reminded that the premier had not increased petroleum prices in months. Call it the “budget of hope”, Tarin said PM Imran stood his ground when the IMF demanded extreme austerity measures in the budget. “Instead, the premier is giving loans and health cards.”

“When this government makes a promise, it makes sure it is fulfilled. We have successfully done what we promised to the people of former tribal areas,” the minister said, adding, “This year, the world’s debt to the GDP has increased by an average of 10%, while Pakistan’s debt increased only by 1.5%”.

He said the annual PSDP was increased by 40% from Rs630 billion to Rs900 billion and energy projects in underdeveloped areas, including Balochistan, former tribal areas and Gilgit-Baltistan, have been prioritised in the development plan. 

The minister pointed out that Pakistan has become a net food importer and the government now aims to make more spending on the agriculture sector to achieve self-reliance. 

Read Islamabad refuses to cave in to IMF demands

Promising that growth will exceed the target in the next fiscal year, the minister said the tax collection target will also be achieved without burdening the poor 

A plan has been formulated in cooperation with the provinces to uplift this sector, he added. To enable a competitive environment conducive to growth, he said, incentives of Rs40 billion will also be given. He said tax relief has been given to the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector and loans of Rs100 billion will be given to them on a markup of 9%. 

He highlighted that the “budget of hope”, would collect up to Rs7,000 billion in tax by 2023, adding that anyone who refuses to pay the tax would be apprehended.

Speaking in the budget session, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the circular debt was calculated at Rs2,308 billion when Imran Khan came into power. “Now, circular debt is Rs1,608 billion.

Expensive electricity plays a big role in circular debt.” Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the present leadership of China intends to establish strategic and economic relations with Pakistan.

Qureshi pointed out that several initiatives have been taken for the betterment of the country. “A strategic committee is being set up by Saudi Arabia to further the economic ties. Kuwait has also lifted the visa ban.”

He told the house that the Egyptian foreign minister will soon visit Pakistan.

“We have shifted the direction of our policy from geo-strategic to geo-economics. We are pushing for economic diplomacy.” “Today Pakistan has received record remittances from overseas Pakistanis who have shown great confidence in the current government,” he said, claiming that after nearly 17 years the country has seen a current account surplus.

Shaukat Tarin on Friday said the budget presented for FY 21-22 was the “budget of hope” for the underprivileged so that they are “looked after like in the state of Madina”. The PTI-led government net’s third fiscal budget, which has been debated for more than 40 hours, had been a subject of arduous National Assembly sessions and objections by the opposition.

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”. “Not only this, but the economy would also flourish,” he promised.

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