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national assembly will pass mini-budget tomorrow (Jan 13): Babar awan

Opposition members and representatives of the PTI’s allies in government have opposed taxation on essential consumer items

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said the National Assembly will approve the mini-budget on Thursday (Jan 13).

Talking to media persons today, Dr Babar Awan said the debate on the mini-budget was almost complete and it will be approved by the parliament tomorrow (Thursday/Jan 13).

Opposition leaders, nonetheless, have strongly opposed the mini-budget in their speeches.

Opposition leaders and important allies of PTI such as MQM and GDA have demanded removal of taxes on essential consumer items from the mini-budget.

The National Assembly has begun a debate on the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021, (mini-budget), which saw the coalition partners in the ruling alliance under the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) joining their voices with the opposition over implications of the new taxation measures which would bring more economic miseries for the people of the country.

Opposition Leader and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif and members of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (allies of the ruling PTI), raised the concern that they were not consulted about the mini-budget and asked the government to withdraw taxes on daily use items.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif said the mini-budget was economic murder of the poor people in the country.

Shehbaz Sharif lashed out at the government’s economic policies saying the PTI government was surrendering the country’s economic sovereignty to IMF just to receive $1 billion from the fund.

He said at the time of presentation of the federal budget in 2021, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had assured the house that there would be no mini-budget, but now the government was presenting it barely after seven months of 2021-22 budget, taking another U-turn.

PML(N) leader said that instead of begging for loans from IMF, it would not be difficult for the government to mop up $1 billion from its own resources.

Opposition leader said the joint opposition would lodge a strong protest inside and outside the parliament, if the government tried to bulldoze the bill.

Meanwhile, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the PTI government was bringing a “tsunami of taxes” through the mini-budget.

He said, “The burden of the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would fall on the common people.” Bilawal said the mini-budget would lead to “economic slaughter” across the country.

Bilawal criticised the government over the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill 2021, approved by a National Assembly panel on Monday, and said the IMF had demanded autonomy for the SBP during the eras of PPP and PML-N, but both the parties rejected this condition.

PPP chairman said Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif talked about a dialogue on the country’s economic issues, but the PTI government refused because of its stubbornness.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also said the government could have used the opposition’s rigidity on the matter to inform the IMF of its inability to accept its demands. “But because of your stubbornness and ego, you took decisions that are a robbery of the common man’s pockets,” he remarked.

PPP leader said the government was presenting a new budget with a new finance minister (Shaukat Tarin), who was reappointed last month, at a time when the country was experiencing “bad economic indicators never seen before”.

He said, “You’ve broken all records of negative growth, inflation, increase in poverty and unemployment rates. When we say this isn’t tabdeeli (change) but destruction, we’re telling the truth. You cannot be entitled to your own facts.”

Bilawal said the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had shown the PTI a trailer of its inefficiency and dismal performance in recent local bodies elections. He said the price hike policy of the government was turning people against the PTI and showing their resentment by voting for other parties.

Furthermore, the MQM’s Iqbal Mohammad Ali Khan expressed annoyance over the proposed taxes in the mini-budget: “Yes, we are allies of the prime minister. But we do not come here only to vote and merely to go through motions,” he said while criticising the government for imposing taxes on food items, cottage industry, solar panels, hospital machinery, cars with low-powered engines, mobile phones and livestock.

Mr Khan said on one hand, the people did not have gas and electricity and, on the other, the government was now going to impose tax on solar panels which the people had been using as an alternative source of energy.

Another MQM legislator, Kishwar Zehra said they were allies of the government but first they were the representatives of the masses.

“Public revenge is very horrible. If we are your allies and friends, then we will definitely advise you how to save yourself from it. This mini-budget is heavier than the previous budget (presented last year),” she said.

She said the people would not accept the mini-budget: “We want to give you time to reconsider it. If you need us and the (support of) people, then reconsider the budget,” she said.

Ms Zehra said her party had objections to 11 clauses of the bill and they had submitted amendments. She asked the government to reduce its expenses, instead of burdening masses with taxes and surrendering before International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ghous Bux Mahar of the GDA, another political ally of the government, expressed concern over inflating rates of agriculture inputs. He said the imposition of new taxes would lead to more increase in prices of food items.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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