ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif led government presented its first budget on Wednesday and termed it as “Business and Investment friendly”. However opposition members appeared unhappy over the claim and most of them voiced their reservations in one way or the other.
Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah lashed at Government for ignoring the promises made with masses during the election campaign. He was talking to media after the budget speech by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Mr. Shah was especially critical of increase in General Sales Tax (GST). He was of the view that increase in GST will make the lives of masses miserable in rural as well as in urban.
Khursheed Shah also expressed his displeasure over no increase in salaries of Government employees. He said that Government should have provided some relief to the Government employees.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz promised to raise the minimum wage to 15000 gradually but this element has completely been ignored in their debut budget.
Dr. Shireen Mazari, PTI spokesperson and Member National Assembly (MNA) also showed her concerns on approach and contents of budget. She was talking to Hamid Mir in program Capital Talk on Wednesday. Dr. Mazari agreed that this is businessman friendly budget as Government revenues are relying mostly on increase in GST. Ordinary people being the consumers are the ultimate losers as businesses tend to pass the whole increase in tax plus some margin to increase their own profits.
Farooq Sattar, parliamentary leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also termed the budget as being traditional with no innovative ideas. Sattar further pointed out that important issues like terrorism and war on terrorism, energy crisis and other similar issues has not been addressed effectively. He slammed the government over increase in GST and no relief to government employees in terms of salary raises. He said that both the points are inexcusable. MQM is the only party which presented its shadow budget of 4 trillion rupees on Tuesday.
With its debut budget Government has also opened its first controversy by changing the name of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) to Pakistan Income Support Program (PIP). PPP loyalists are certain to resist this change and this can lead to confrontation which Pakistan cannot afford at such crucial time.