ISLAMABAD : Leader of the House in the Senate, Dr. Shahzad Waseem has said that the new budget has been presented in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vison of empathy, sacrifice and reforms. Speaking in the Upper House over the next year’s budget today (Monday), he said 144 billion rupees are being distributed among 12 million deserving families in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic under Ehsas programme. He said the government immediately announced an economic stimulus package of worth 1200 billion rupees and 875 billion of them have been allocated in the new budget. He said 200 billion rupees were allocated for daily wagers, 100 billion rupees for small and medium enterprises, while utility bills of common people were deferred for three months. Regarding sacrifice, Dr Shahzad Waseem said Prime Minister Imran Khan has proved this fact by example and saved around 18 million rupees in the allocated amount for the Prime Minister office. Commenting on reforms programme, Leader of the House said no country can sustain and yield far-reaching results without having reforms in its institutions. He said the PTI-led government expedited the reforms process to strengthen state institutions. He said publication of sugar inquiry report and fixing responsibility of the sugar scam is the bright example of government policy of transparency and accountability. Dr Shahzad Waseem said measures have also been proposed for ease of doing business in Pakistan and we should shift from luxury imported items to ‘Made in Pakistan’ goods. He said revamping Pakistan’s economy was the top priority of the PTI government after coming to power. The leader of the House said tax revenue witnessed an increase of 17 percent, non-tax revenue 134 percent, and record number of filers as a result of government’s efforts to document Pakistan’s economy. He said international financial institutions like Moody’s, World Bank, and Bloomberg recognized stability in Pakistan’s economy. He, however, said PTI-government inherited a debt ridden economy as a result of corruption, callousness, and massive loans by the previous regimes. The leader of House urged the parliamentarians to present their suggestions and the government will welcome positive budgetary proposals from the lawmakers. He assured the House that the PTI-government strongly believes in people-centric decisions in the best interest of the country and general public. Meanwhile, Senator Abdul Qayyum said the government has failed to contain the price hike of daily items. He claimed that development budget has been curtailed to just 650 billion rupees against the allocation of 1.3 trillion rupees by the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. He proposed a 10 percent increase in salaries and pensions of the government employees. He said local bodies system should be activated to improve governance. Terming the budget as anti-people, Raza Rabbani said pays and pensions have been frozen on the directions of the International Monetary Fund. He said provinces’ share in the National Finance Commission has been reduced. He demanded of the government to present details of the foreign assistance to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in the house. Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Khan Swati said no new tax has been imposed rather a number of duties have been brought down in the new budget. He also emphasized on reforming the Federal Bureau of Revenue and introduction of automation in the tax collecting body to check corruption. He said no cartel will be spared under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said primary balance has been managed successfully, while state enterprises will be made loss free. He said construction and agriculture sectors have been given top priority in the new budget. He said the expenditure of the President and the Prime Minister has been cut to the bone. To begin with, Senator Sherry Rehman said there should have been a crisis budget carrying massive structural changes in the health sector. She said the government has failed to present any road map and action plan to face the challenge of COVID-19. She said even the government functionaries are not following standard operating procedure. She said there are 1279 hospitals in Pakistan and the PTI government has not setup any new health facility since it came to power. She said the government claimed that it has presented a tax free budget, but it has imposed indirect taxes of worth 2.29 trillion rupees, besides direct taxes of 200 billion rupees. She said the government has taken loans in just 18 months, even before the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, more than the total debt taken in 71 years. Sherry Rehman said there is nothing in the budget for agriculture sector, especially to deal with the menace of locust. The House has been adjourned to meet again at 4 p.m. tomorrow.
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