ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly has passed ‘The Finance Bill 2016’ giving legal cover to the budgetary proposals for the next financial year. The House adopted a number of amendments proposed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Senators and MNAs during the debate.
The budget with a total outlay of 4395 billion rupees, is growth oriented today special emphasis on attracting investment, improvement of infrastructure and providing the common man.
The budget envisages Federal Public Sector Development Programme of 800 billion rupees. As many as 410 billion rupees have been allocated for energy generation and distribution projects. Sixty-eight billion rupees will be spent on thirteen projects for development of Gwadar while forty-one billion rupees have been earmarked for modernization of Pakistan Railways.
The budget contains a special package for development of agriculture sector, including price reduction of fertilizers and increase in the volume of agriculture credit.
The budget allocation for BISP has been increased from 102 billion rupees to 115 billion rupees to help the needy.
One hundred billion rupees have been allocated for Temporarily Displaced Persons and security enhancement. A ten percent increase after merging the adhoc reliefs of 2013, 2014 and 2015 in the basic pay has been announced for government employees and pensioners.
The budget contains a medium term micro framework 2016-19 under which GDP growth rate will be enhanced to seven percent in the next three years. Winding up discussion on the Finance Bill in the House, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government is making all out efforts to enhance the ratio of Foreign Direct Investment in the country. He said the Foreign Direct Investment will be increased from the current 15.6 per cent to 22.2 per cent of the GDP in the next two to three years.
He said this will help generate economic activity and create job opportunities in the country. Ishaq Dar said apart from China, the country is luring investment from many other countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Ishaq Dar said negotiations are underway with Swiss authorities about the money stashed by Pakistani nationals in their banks. A meeting in this regard will be held on Saturday next. He said Pakistan is also seeking the membership of multilateral convention Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to ensure easy access to those accounts.
The Minister clarified that withholding tax is a direct tax. He said the ratio of direct taxes has been increased from 38 percent to 42.4 percent and the government is committed to further enhance the rate. He said efforts are being made to bring the non-filers into the tax net.
Ishaq Dar said that work on the NFC was started in April this year and the process will be completed at the earliest. Meanwhile, the National Assembly approved all 147 demands for grants for the next financial year relating to different ministries, divisions and departments. Discussing the finance bill 2016 the opposition members urged the government to increase the ratio of direct taxes in order to provide relief to the common man.
The opposition members said the finance bill, 2016 lacks relief measures and demanded that salaries of government employees be increased by at least twenty percent. The Finance Minister announced three-month honorarium for all the officers and officials of the National Assembly, Senate, Radio Pakistan, PTV, APP, PID, CDA and other departments who performed duty at the Parliament House for the arrangements and coverage of the budget session.