The National Assembly has passed the Finance Bill 2018 giving legal cover to the budgetary proposals for the next financial year.
A number of proposals given by members during debate on the budget and recommendations of the Senate have been incorporated either fully or partially but the basic structure of the budget remains as announced by |Finance Minister on 27th of last month.
The new budget, which is for full year, envisages incentives and relief for industry, agriculture and different segments of the society.
An unprecedented tax relief was announced in the budget and has been retained in the final version despite propositions made by some political parties and the upper house to increase the tax rate. People with annual income of between four hundred thousand eight hundred thousand rupees will pay a token amount of one thousand for the entire year and those with income of eight hundred thousand and 1.2 million would pay just two thousand rupees.
Ten percent ad hoc relief allowance to the civil and armed forces employees and ten percent increase in pensions across the board.
House rent ceiling and house rent allowance have also been increased by fifty percent each.
Minimum pension is being increased from the existing six thousand to ten thousand rupees considering the difficulties of low paid pensioners.
Similarly, family pension would also get increase from 4500 rupees to 7500 rupees.
Minimum pension of pensioners above seventy five years of age would be fifteen thousand rupees.
The government has also proposed an allocation of twelve billion rupees for provision of advances to government servants for house building and purchase of transport facility. It has also set aside five billion rupees for senior officers performance allowance, details of which would be announced separately.
Over time allowance of staff car drivers and dispatch riders is being increased from forty rupee per hour to eighty rupee per hour.
Non-filers of tax returns will not be able to purchase property but the limit for this purpose has been enhanced from four million rupees to five million rupees.
The house held discussion on the supplementary demands for grants and appropriations for the current fiscal year.
Responding to the points of the opposition members, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail admitted that the foreign exchange reserves have gone down and that the current account deficit is a serious issue. He, however, said we have turned the tide as exports have witnessed an upsurge over the last few months. In the month of March, the exports grew by twenty four percent while in April these increased by eighteen percent.
The house today approved all the 127 supplementary demands for grants pertaining to different ministries and departments for the current fiscal year.
The Finance Minister laid before the House Schedule of Authorized Expenditure 2018-19 and Supplementary Schedule of Authorized Expenditure 2017-2018.
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail thanked God Almighty for providing opportunity to the government to present its sixth budget. He said despite many challenges the present government took forward the country on the path of economic development. He also thanked the members of the Parliament for their positive contributions in the budget.
The Finance Minister announced honoraria equal to five months basic pay for the employees of National Assembly and Senate as well as the staff of different departments who were deployed for the budget session. He assured that the honoraria will be paid to the staff before the completion of the tenure of the present government.
The House has been adjourned to meet again on Monday at 3.p.m.