ISLAMABAD: Rejecting claims that the new budget is a ‘budget for the rich,’ Finance Minister Ishaq Dar asserted it is ‘pro-poor’ with the rich in mind who have been taxed through varying means.
“Taxes have been levied on the affluent class and not the poor,” the finance minister said.
While explaining the salient features of the new budget for the year 2015-16 on Saturday at a press conference Dar clarified that there has been no change in duties on oil, ghee, sugar, milk POL products, or locally produced cement which are used by the common man. He labeled the duty on cement imports as “preemptive action” to promote the local industry and avoid cement dumping. Contrary to this, he said the increase in duty on Yogurt or Cheese is very small and this will be a tax on the rich who use them.
He said more than thirty thousand solar tube wells and packages for widows are government’s steps to support poor people and BISP, Baitulmal, PM Youth Loan Scheme, Income Tax relief are steps that also show this budget is not for rich.
Ishaq Dar said that government has given incentives to government employees increasing their pay and pension by 7.5 percent. He said that government has also announced to merge two ad-hoc relief allowances in the basic pay scales and to reduce income tax on their salaries from five to two percent.
The Minister said the government has allocated 102 billion rupees for Benazir Income Support Programme to help the poor and destitute.
He said duties of two types have been merged on mobile phones, as a result of which cell phones have in fact become cheaper.
He explained that taxes on Capital Gains and the dividends will only impact the rich class. He said the one-time tax about temporarily displaced persons is also for the higher income groups. The Minister said super tax would be imposed on those with annual income of more than 500 million rupees.
The Minister said special packages have been announced in the budget to boost agriculture and construction sectors which will help generate 2 to 2.5 million jobs in the next fiscal year. He said it is utmost effort of the government to create more jobs and enhance GDP growth rate. He said agriculture credit scheme and livestock and crop insurance schemes are also meant for the sixty to seventy percent population of the country.
Ishaq Dar said wheat subsidy for Gilgit Baltistan has not been withdrawn and an amount of 6.50 billion rupees has been earmarked in the budget for the purpose.
The Finance Minister invited all political parties to build consensus on Charter of Economy so that the country moves ahead on the road to progress.
He said proper allocations have been made in the new budget for holding of population census in March/April next year.