New year budget, claims and promises

Written by The Frontier Post

The PTI led government unveiled its third budget worth Rs. 8.4 trillion rupees for the fiscal year 2021-22 on Friday. Finance Minister Shoukat Tarin told the nation that despite the ongoing third wave of coronarius pandemic in the country, the PTI government had performed well through its smart lock down policy and kept the economy running during this crucial time. Tarin claimed that the government’s prudent approach during pandemic and incentivized policies for the industrial sector led to a boom in economic growth and the previous fiscal year ended up with a remarkable 3.94 % growth rate.
Based on the current improvement in the country’s economy the ruling party has allocated remarkable funds for massive development projects and social welfare activities. Under this budget, the government has increased development funds from Rs 630 to Rs 900 billion, about 40 % increase from the previous year. It was informed that the government’s major focus would be developing food and water security, energy sector, improving critical road infrastructure, advancing implementation of CPEC, operationalization of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), combating climate change, technology-driven knowledge economy, and removing regional disparities in the country.
Government prime focus will be CPEC and mega water security projects during next fiscal year. It was informed that currently 21 projects worth $21 billion are underway, whereas 26 strategic projects of $28 billion are in pipeline under CPEC. Government allocated Rs 91 billion for mega water security projects during next fiscal year, including Rs 57 billion for Dasu hydropower project, Rs 23 billion for Diamer Bhasha Dam, Rs 6 billion for Mohmand Dam, and Rs 14 billion for Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project. It was suggested that Special Technology Zones (STZ) will be exempted for import duty on import of plants, machinery, equipment, and raw material in a bid to continue incentivized policy toward industry.
Government exempted locally produced silos from taxation and allocated enough for locust emergency, livestock, fisheries, food security projects, increased production of wheat, rice, cotton sugarcane, pulses, and improvement in watercourses. The government gave some relief to the industrial sector particularly to the automobile sector due to exemption of tax on light vehicles and reduced federal excise duty on telecommunication from 17% to 16%. Government also announced various interest free loans programs for urban and rural households despite provision of loans for low-cost housing. Tarin also vowed to attain 6 to 7 percent growth to accommodate job requirements of 65 % youths during the coming year. The government expressed intentions to bring improvements in energy sector, financial, banking sector, budget and debt sustainability, price stability, industry and exports, public sector enterprises and privatization policy, information technology, and domestic commerce through short, medium, and long-term plans during next fiscal year.
Newly posted Finance Minister Shoukat Tarin has presented a self-claimed pro-public and business friendly budget for next fiscal year. However, despite no increase in pay and pension of government employees in the last budget and massive inflation throughout the year, the government awarded only a 10 % increase in pay and pension head which is utterly insufficient. The annual budget now proves to be a tricky riddle which is even not understandable by a learned individual how poor masses can solve this trick. However, the public measures it through the aftershocks which they feel in their pockets after hearing this prophecy of the government. It is suggestable that the government must inform the public about the external and internal loans it receives during the outgoing fiscal year so the people can easily judge the government’s performance.

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