Shehbaz Sharif warns of further increase in poverty, inflation

ISLAMABAD   -  Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif Thursday called for reviewing the budget proposals about taxes and duties in order to ensure maximum relief to the masses.

The National Assembly resumed its session at the Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair. Continuing his speech on the budget 2021-22, Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif said there will be further increase in poverty and inflation as a result of this budget. He said 383 billion rupees of new taxes have been proposed in the budget, which would add to the woes of the common man. He also opposed an increase in the GST of dairy products.

He said we should work together in the best national interest whilst keeping our ego aside. He said responsibility rests with the government to reach out the opposition and create consensus on important matters for the sake of the people of the country.

Shehbaz Sharif demanded of the government to enhance 20 percent salaries of the government employees and fix the minimum wage for laborers as twenty-five thousand rupees. He said beneficiaries of Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution should also be included in this proposal accordingly.

He also proposed withdrawal of new taxes on edible items and duty on import of baby milk powder. The Leader of the Opposition said tax on LNG and RLNG should be abolished with immediate effect and electricity tariff should be reduced. He emphasized on giving concessions to farmers’ inputs like fertilizers and power tariff for tube-wells of the agriculture sector should be brought back to the level as it was in the PML-N government. He said sales tax on import of machinery should be withdrawn and all projects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor should be made operational.

Shehbaz Sharif said the Supreme Court has restored local bodies and the government has yet not implemented this decision. He urged the government to implement the apex Court’s decision by immediately restoring the local bodies.

The Leader of the Opposition condemned restrictions on media and freedom of expression. He said the Media Development Authority is a black law which needs immediate revocation.

Talking about the Kashmir issue and Afghanistan, Shehbaz Sharif said no decision on Kashmir should be taken without taking the Kashmiri leadership into confidence.  He said peace in Afghanistan is imperative for stability, progress and prosperity in Pakistan and we need extra care while handling these issues.

He specifically pointed out to rationalize the tax proposals to spur the economy by promoting sugar industry, fertilizer and LNG sectors. He, however, claimed that the proposal regarding new taxes should be reviewed. He said sugar, wheat and flour prices had not decreases despite bumper crops.

Shehbaz Sharif also called for expediting pace of work on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), besides reviving construction on its Western route, and initiating railways related projects.

He said the parliamentary sessions cost millions of rupees daily, and “we were here to address the issues of farmers, traders, students and others.” He offered the opposition’s unconditional support to the government to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. He claimed that the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had collected record revenue and completed the International Monetary Fund programme.

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