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Food Efficient to Deficient: “We should not play politics with the poor,”- Shaukat Tarin

Poor people will get Loans up to Rs2 million to build a roof and loans to poor farmers will go up to Rs500,000.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Cabinet opposed the imposition of tax on mobile phone calls, internet data and SMS after which there will be no increase in the tax rate for all these services, said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in a post-budget press conference Saturday afternoon.

A day earlier, the government had unveiled the budget for fiscal year 2021-22, with the outlay kept at Rs8,478 billion and the tax target set at an ambitious Rs5,829 billion.

Addressing the post-budget press conference in Islamabad, Tarin said the government has presented a total growth budget and their challenge is to stabilise growth.

Additional tax of Rs500 billion will be collected in the next financial year, said Tarin. “We have to earn dollars by increasing exports and add an additional tax of Rs500 billion in the next financial year,” he said.

He was accompanied by Federal Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, and Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce and Industries Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to the PM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar.

The finance minister said they will reach non-filers through electricity and gas bills.

He said that big retailers have sales of Rs1,500 billion and sales tax has to be levied on all big stores. Consumers, he said, will be rewarded if they get a slip and gave examples of other countries, saying that such successful schemes have come up in Turkey.

We should not play politics with the poor: Shaukat Tarin

The finance minister said that the poor in the country have not received loans and training for the last 70 years.

He said loans will be given from commercial banks to small welfare banks and, in the first phase, four million people will be targeted. The finance minister announced plans to provide employment and give Rs150,000 to small farmers while also giving lists of small farmers and the poor to banks.

Loans up to Rs2 million will be given to build a roof and loans to poor farmers will go up to Rs500,000, he said.

Pakistan has become a food deficient country and we are now importing what we used to export, he said, adding that the country is importing pulses, wheat, and sugar.

“We did not pay attention to our crops, but now we will pay attention to it,” he assured.

“We should not play politics with the poor,” he said, adding that banks have the resources and the government does not have fiscal space.

Commercial banks are not near the homes of the poor, they are in big cities, he said.

On the IMF and Pakistan’s struggle for growth

The finance minister said that Pakistan has to go to the International Monetary Fund for help when its position is weak.

“We need 20% growth in exports. Our savings rate is 15% and our investment rate is up to 16%. If we do not have revenue, how will we achieve growth?” he asked.

Speaking about the FBR, he said they have been given a target of Rs4,700 billion in revenue collection for the current financial year. The target for the next financial year is Rs5,800 billion.

“People object to how Rs5,800 billion will be collected,” he said, explaining that talks are underway with the IMF.

Gohar Imdad
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