ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday passed the Finance Bill 2018-19, giving the go-ahead to the budgetary proposals for the upcoming financial year.
The house ratified the full-year federal budget for financial year 2018-19 with a number of proposals given by members during the debate on the budget and recommendations of the Senate incorporated either fully or partially.
However, the basic structure of the budget remains the same as announced by Finance Minister on April 27.
Winding up debate on the budget in National Assembly earlier this week, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail dispelled the impression that the government has increased the burden of taxes on low income groups.
The minister said the government believes in serving the masses and upholding the supremacy of democracy.
He assured that adjustment in the upper limit of Petroleum Development Levy will not increase prices of petroleum products.
Miftah said the allocations of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) have been enhanced three times while ten billion rupees have been proposed for Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal for the next fiscal year.
He said the government has increased power subsidy to Rs150 billion rupees adding that it has added 12,230 megawatt of power to the national grid which has greatly helped bridge the demand and supply gap.
He said efforts are being made to contain the circular debt in order to avoid outages in the summer season.
Miftah Ismail said that exports are witnessing an increase following the incentives introduced by the government.
About the steps taken for the growth of agriculture sector, he said the government has further reduced sales tax to 2 percent on fertilizers.
He said the farmers who will pay their outstanding bills in the first quarter of next fiscal year will be given exemption of 20 percent in the bills. This will benefit the farmers’ community to the tune of six billion rupees.
The minister announced to enhance the conveyance allowance of government employees of grade 1-16 by 50 percent.
It will be applicable to the employees who sit for late hours. He said it is the priority of the government to provide relief to the low income groups and for this purpose the small housing schemes will be facilitated and encouraged.
He said that non-filers of tax returns will not be able to purchase property but the limit for this purpose has been enhanced from Rs4 million to Rs5 million. He also announced to exempt the matches industry from sales tax.
The minister expressed confidence that the next year’s budget will give further impetus to the economy and will boost economic activities in the country.
He claimed that the government has spent resources on the welfare of people and today the economy stands at the record growth level.
Miftah Ismail said that the upper house has furnished 157 recommendations for incorporation in the budget. He said of these 108 were related to the federal development budget which has been referred to the planning commission. He said the remaining 49 recommendations were pertaining to the finance ministry. He said of these forty two have been adopted fully or partially.
The National Assembly held discussion on the charged expenditures pertaining to different departments including Pakistan Railways, civil works, Federal Tax Ombudsman, Islamabad High Court, Supreme Court and Pakistan Post. INP