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Govt trying hard to steer country out of difficult time

Saddia Mazhar,

Islamabad: The Government of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf soon after being elected is trying very hard to bring the train of the industries and economy on the right track. For this purpose the Finance Minister Mr Asad Omer had several meetings with Top investors and industrialist. The government is committed to address all the reservation.

Finance Minister Asad Umer on Tuesday presented Finance Supplementary Bill 2018 in the National Assembly.

The finance Minister while speaking , said that the budget deficit had gone up to 6.6 percent from 4.1 percent at the start of the last government’s tenure.

“The Most dangerous situation is that if we continue as we have, the budget deficit will expand 7.2 percent by the end of the ongoing year. This is the assessment of the finance ministry as well as economic experts,” He add.

The Finance Minister further informed the House the situation of foreign exchange reserves had depleted to only two months of import cover and draw the attention to the fall in the Rupee’s value against US Dollar. Umer said that now is the time to make hard and difficult decisions and the people should support them as they are need of the day and will be fruitful is long term.

“We need to decide—not the government alone, but the parliament together—if we want to continue like this? ‘’ he asked the house.

“The Government overestimated revenues by Rs. 350 Billion and understated expenditures by Rs. 250 Billion.’’ He added.

“These are difficult times, and they call for difficult measures.’’ ‘’In total, there is a Rs. 890 Billion difference in the projected and budgeted figures for the deficit which we have to arrest.”

He said, “For farmers, we are ensuring the provision of urea by boosting local production and by importing 100,000 tons from abroad coupled with a Rs 6-7 billion subsidy.”

The minister informed the , “we will provide Rs 540,000 per family in the form of the Sehat Insaf Card for doctors’ fees and medicines in Fata and Islamabad. We have also instructed the Punjab government to introduce the facility in that province as well.”

The minister said, “we have also directed the release of Rs 4.5 billion for the completion of a housing scheme for the underprivileged.”

“Minimum pension has been increased by 10 percent for EOBI pensioners” he further added.

The minister said, “The big decision we made yesterday was a Rs 44 billion benefit for the textile industry in Punjab. We will also work to create benefits for the zero-rated sectors in our electricity measures.”

The Federal government had also withdrawn Rs 100 billion extra levy on petroleum products, as it hopefully decreased the price of petroleum products.

He said, “We will raise Rs 183 billion in additional revenue. Half of this will be raised merely through better administrative procedures that utilize technology to plug leakages in the system. The Federal Board of Revenue has accepted this challenge.”

He said, “We have also increased some taxes on the rich. We have doubled the duty on cars of 1800cc engine capacity or more. We have also decided to increase the duty on several imported luxury products. Likewise, the duty will be increased on expensive phones.”

“The rate of WHT on non-filers has been increased back to 0.6 pc on banking transactions,” he added. He said decision had been made to increase taxes on cigarettes.

“The last government had given sweeping tax relief to all kinds of people, including the most rich. The final decision we’ve taken is that we’ll maintain the Rs1,200,000 limit on exemption. We are also maintaining the tax rate for those earning between Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000. For all categories above that, we are increasing the tax rate that was applicable in May, but it will remain lower than what it was last year. We hope that the people who have the means will not oppose us on this” he added

He once again requested the privileged and said “we are asking the privileged to sacrifice for the sake of Pakistan, we have also decided to withdraw certain tax exemptions from prime ministers and ministers,”.

“We have also identified infrastructure priorities for the National Highway Authority, on which we will spend Rs 100 billion. We will spend another Rs 500 billion on PSDP”, he added.

The minister said “Rs 661 billion was spent on development last year, and we will spend Rs 725 billon this year. Out of this, we will be spending Rs 50 billion on development in Karachi. This is a joint venture between the federal and Sindh governments.”

Unlikely t he minister said that he was sure past governments had done whatever they believed was necessary for the benefit of the country.

Asad Omer while in his speech Promised that he would uphold and continue with the projects introduced by past governments — especially the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and dams on which work is ongoing — the finance minister stressed that the economy’s success meant parliament’s success.

“This nation was given to us by God. There is so much potential in this country, and we will, God-willing, take it to new heights.”

In the five-year term of the PML-N government, foreign debt increased by 34 billion dollar, while foreign exchange reserves continued to decline speedily, Umar recalled.

He further said that the depleting foreign exchange reserves had led to the Pakistan rupee’s depreciation.

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