ISLAMABAD: 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.
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.