Miftah winds up budget debate in NA


—file photo

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Dr. Miftah Ismail Tuesday said that tax relief to all segments of society has been provided through budget for fiscal year 2018-19 and additional taxes were avoided 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.

Responding to various objections related to the budget presented 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 budgets of their respective province, but also wondered 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 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He rejected the misperception and claims of the some members of the House that the government at one side had withdrawn taxes of about Rs 184 billion and imposed other taxes of Rs400 billion.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 the 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 in order to provide cheap electricity to the consumers, subsidy of Rs150 billion is being provided.

He said that the government was taking measures to promote agricultural sector, and taxes 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.