Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that the budget for the next financial year is aimed at maintaining economic stability‚ accelerating economic growth‚ checking inflation and bringing well-to-do in the tax net.
The Finance Minister said the budget contains measures for movement towards self-reliance‚ spur growth through 360 billion rupee worth of development programme; protect vulnerable segments of the society from the impact of the global recession through subsidies and social safety nets and provide huge allocations of 183 billion rupees to address the challenge of power shortage.
He said WAPDA and power companies would also spend additional 115 billion rupees on power projects to ensure availability of electricity to the people on cheaper rates.
The Minister said Benazir Income Support Programme was a flagship programme to address the issue of poverty. The programme got 50 billion rupees during current year benefiting 3.5 million families who got cash transfers of one thousand rupee per month. The allocations for the programme have been increased in the new budget to provide benefit to more families, he said.
He said the low income groups would be provided targetted subsidy by way of discounted selling of essential foods items through Utility Stores.
He said the Government spent 50 billion rupees to import 1.2 million tones of fertilizer which was provided to farmers on reduced rates resulting into not only self-sufficiency in food but also creating surplus for export.
Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said the tax system has been simplified.
“Income Tax exemption limit‚ which is currently 350‚000 rupee‚ is being raised to four hundred thousand rupees. Rates of tax have also been brought down which would benefit about 1.4 million tax payers”, he said.
He said salaries and pensions of the Government employees have been increased by 20 percent which would help mitigate the impact of inflation.
The Finance Minister said the rate of GST on different items has been brought down to 16% while the items on which the GST is less than 16% would continue to enjoy the existing rate. This would also ultimately benefit consumers.
He said the turn over tax on the income of businessmen is being lowered from the existing one to half percent in the new budget.
Import duty on a number of items including raw materials used in pharmaceutical industry and stationery items has been reduced which would help their prices bring them.
He said the new budget also contains measures to address the issue of unemployment. Allocations have been made in the new budget to provide sixty thousand internships to graduates and forty thousand to Master degree holders.