Pakistan, on Friday, June 11, 2021, unveiled a Rs 7.14 trillion budget for the fiscal year of 2020-21, with defense allocations amounting to around Rs 1.3 trillion, which is almost 12 percent higher than last year. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also attended the budget presentation. “Our main aim was to revive the economy and stabilize and strengthen the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as we realize the vision and aspirations of our founding fathers,” explained Minister Pakistan’s Energy Minister Mr. Hammad Azhar while presenting the budget.
Rs 70 billion has been reserved for combating the coronavirus and other disasters and Rs 80 billion for special economic zones.
Opposition Leaders were less than pleased with this budget. “The government has released “fake” numbers in the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021-22”, PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League) President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said Monday.
He also questioned, “If the country has seen growth, has only the elite and those residing in the palaces of Bani Gala availed that prosperity?”
Bani Gala is located in Islamabad. Prime Minister Imran Khan resides there in his mansion-like home. The legality of how he came to own it and built the house has been in question for years.
Right after the new budget, petroleum prices soared in Pakistan. Whether the two incidents are related or not cannot be said for sure. However, the opposition seems to want answers.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also criticized the recent budget. He said that Imran Khan’s government is afraid of the public’s reaction to the “storm of heavy taxes imposed on them.”
He said that their confusion was evident from their back and forth on the phone call tax. In a speech on Sunday, he said that the decision to implement nearly Rs375 billion worth of tariffs on the masses is an “injustice.”
The telecom sector has been heavily imposed by new taxes that have never been seen in Pakistan before. Some taxes that were part of the original plan were then removed upon rejection by the cabinet. It might be introduced at a later date to be added to the next fiscal year’s budget plan as needed. This was all explained by Energy Minister Hammad Azhar.
The government did not spare a single item of the common person’s use from taxes,” Bilawal said, adding that the government is “robbing people” in the name of the ‘PTIMF’ budget, implying a budget proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“I reject the government’s PTIMF budget,” he said.
Some significant problems that the opposition has with this budget are that the taxes are too high, the amount in the budget to deal with the pandemic problem is not enough. There was a critical locust attack on the country just recently. Our farmers and small businesses were not given enough budgets to deal with that situation. The pensioners and the real needs of the poor were not looked at in the healthcare sector.
The opposition leaders also claim that the elite and the rich were the ones who got more the tax breaks and a good deal but the poor and middle class will still suffer.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government claim otherwise. They say that this budget will boost the economy and put the money in people’s hands. The federal government is proposing to raise government employees’ salaries by 10%.
More small businesses will have a chance to flourish this new year.
In recent years the government is proposing to reduce sales tax on locally made cars and decreasing taxes on knocked down units of imported electric vehicles.
Of course, the biggest challenge this year would be to pay off the international debt.