No additional taxes, Govt’s focus on people’s welfare, upholding supremacy of democracy : Miftah

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APP31-15 ISLAMABAD: May 15 - Finance Minister, Miftah Ismail delivering budget winding up speech in National Assembly. APP

ISLAMABAD, May 15 (APP):Highlighting that main focus of the government was welfare of people and upholding
supremacy of democracy, Federal Minister for Finance, Dr. Miftah Ismail Tuesday
said tax relief to all segments of society has been provided through budget for fiscal
year 2018-19, while avoiding imposition of any additional taxes, which is unprecedented
in the budgetary history of the country.
Winding up the budget debate in the National Assembly, the federal minister
expressed the gratitude to all members of the assembly who fully participated in
the budget debate, particularly the opposition members, who played positive role
despite specific reservations.
Responding to various objections related to presentation of the budget by the
incumbent government, he said it was the duty of the parliament to fix direction of
national priorities for next financial year prior to the end of current year.
The fiscal budget was an important part of process of legislation which
should be done by the elected parliament, he added.
Miftah congratulated Chief Ministers of Sindh and Baluchistan for presenting
budget of their respective province, but questioned how Sindh presented budget
for only three months.
He lauded the role of the Senate and Senate Standing Committee on Finance
for preparing many proposals to make the budget result-oriented.
He said that as many as 157 recommendations were received from Senate,
out of which 108 were related to the Federal Public Sector Development Programme
(PSDP), which have been forwarded to Planning and Development Division for
further consideration.
He said that out of the remaining 49 recommendations related to Ministry of
Finance, 42 were either accepted fully or partially.
He said that the government had given relief to the low income people by
exempting their incomes from tax, saying that they could now utilize this money
on other expenditures including education.
Explaining issues related to exports, the minister said that theses had suffered
due to recession in international market, internal security problems and energy crisis
during the last some years.
However, he added, the government had announced export package, which
resulted in enhancing the exports of the country, adding the exports witnessed
increase of 24 per cent in March 2018 and 18 per cent in April 2018.
He said that a new export package was also on cards which is being launched
on the direction of Prime Minister and Rs 24 billion has been set aside in the budget,
adding further amount could also be provided for the package from supplementary
grants, if required.
He rejected the misperception and claims of the some members of the House
that the government at one side had withdrawn taxes of about Rs 184 billion and
imposed other taxes of Rs400 billion. Similarly he also categorically stated that
government did not impose Rs 30 billion taxes on petroleum products, nor was
it intending to do so in future.
The minister clarified that enhancing the upper limit of petroleum levy was
a constitutional requirement.
He said that the budget also provided cushion for the poor segments of
society, so the misperception that the budget had nothing to offer for the poor,
was wrong.
He said that the government has increased the funding for Benazir Income
Support Programme (BISP) by three times, while the funds for Pakistan Bait-ul-Mall
have also been increased from just Rs2 billion in 2013 to Rs 6 billion in the current
year and would be Rs10 billion next year.
On public debt issue, the minister said that there had been increase of only
6.1 per cent in the gross public debt and 4.1 per cent in net public debt while during
the period from 2008 to 2017, the gross public debt was recorded at 6.4 per cent
while the net public debt was 7.2 per cent, which is comparatively higher.
He said that the government had utilized the debt for infrastructure
development.
He said that in order to provide cheap electricity to the consumers, subsidy
of Rs150 billion is being provided.
He said that when this government assumed power in 2013, around 18
hours load-shedding was being observed, while the government added about
12,230 megawatt into the national grid system. The minister said that efforts
were being made to overcome circular debt.
He said that the sales tax for Information Technology has been reduced
from 15 per cent to 5 per cent, and the provinces have also been asked to
take necessary measures in this regard.
He said that the government was taking measures to promote agricultural
sector, and tax on all fertilizers has been reduced to 2 per cent. In order to
promote local gypsum and overcome gypsum deficiency in cultivable land,
20 per cent duty is being imposed on import of gypsum, he added.
Announcing further relief for government employees, the minister announced
50 per cent conveyance allowance from grade-1 to Grade-16.
He said that for low income people, 50 per cent tax exemption is being provided
on sales of house upto Rs2.5 million.
He said the limit of purchasing property by non-filers has been increased from
Rs4 million to Rs 5 million.