HYDERABAD, June 2: Budgetary estimates for 2012-13 have been rejected by politicians, labour leaders, agriculturists and industrialists on the ground that the budget document belies government’s claim that it has not imposed new taxes.
Expressing their views on Saturday, they described budget speech of the finance minister as eyewash and said the government had not come up with any relief for people.
The government should have announced some major initiatives in the energy sector and adequate financial relief for labourers because 20 per cent ad hoc relief was insignificant. They feared that budget deficit would certainly be met through direct and indirect taxes.
President of the Jamiat-e-Ulmae Pakistan Sahizbada Zubair termed budget destruction of economy and said that non-allocation of funds for energy sector indicated that the country would remain in the grip of crisis. Health and education sectors were neglected which should have been at least four per cent of the total budget as per international laws.
“Budget deficit of Rs1,184 billion will lead to inflation and the poor will be overburdened,” he said. More loans would be obtained for debt servicing, which meant that the country’s sovereignty would be surrendered to the IMF.
He said the youths had been overlooked because no allocations were made for jobs. He rejected incentives and facilities for those who served as prime minister and criticised raise in the expenditure of the presidency and prime minister house. Sindh Amir Jamat-e-Islami Maulana Asadullah Bhutto criticised the government for befooling people. “Soon there will be direct and indirect taxes for the people because this is the only way to meet budget deficit,” he said. Already, he said, the government had not only imposed new taxes, but increased previous taxes as well. He mentioned that levy on petroleum products had been imposed despite a decline in petroleum prices in the international market.
The budget deficit would be met through new taxes soon, he said, adding that non-development expenses for the prime minister house and presidency had been unnecessarily increased, he said.
He assailed the government for giving perks and privileges to Yusuf Raza Gilani as former prime minister, which would be a burden for poor people. He questioned why no allocations were made for Thar coal project and only some allocation was reflected for water supply feasibility President Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry Goharullah rejected the budgetary estimates, saying that one of the proposals that had been agreed by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh with Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries was reflected in his speech.
“I am puzzled from whom the government will collect revenue when it didn’t explain areas. Deficit is huge that shows more taxes are in pipeline. It will be leading to inflation,” he said. HCCI had proposed that capital value tax should be levied in real estate business to ensure stability in the sector.
“The government talks about Awami budget but I don’t think it has come up with such budget,” he said.
According to Qamoos Gul Khattak, a veteran labour leader, 20 per cent ad hoc relief is just a joke. It would not effect allowances in salaries.
Budget offers nothing to the labour class.
“I want to ask the government if price hike is only for public sector workers. Doesn’t it affect private sector labour class?” he said.
Condition of private sector workers was worse than their public sector counterparts, he said.
“They don’t get minimum wages as have been announced by the government from time to time,” he said. No worker’s family could make both ends meet with Rs8,000 monthly salary. The government did not consider proposals sent by the workers federation. “Perhaps the government listens to those more who talk through violence and not the one who talk with rationale,” he said.
Senior vice-chairman of Kotri Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) – Sindh’s second largest industrial trading estate — Khalil Ahmed expressed his disappointment over the budget, saying that the energy sector crisis had not been addressed properly.
“Our cost of production is increasing on a daily basis due to power tariff,” he said. Sindh Tarraqi Passand Party chairman Dr Qadir Magsi said it was a budget for technocrats. He said the government always looked forward to international loans to make up its budgetary estimates. While price hike was 100 per cent, the increase for employees was just 20 per cent, he said.
Sindh Chamber of Agriculture president Dr Nadeem Qamar said the government offered nothing to the agriculture sector that was backbone of the country’s economy.
He asked why the government had made allocations for education and health sectors when they were devolved subjects. “If this is the case, the agriculture sector should have been given allocations,” he said. Referring to Rs405 million allocation for bio-technology, seed production and other initiatives, he said it was negligible.
The government had neglected agriculturists’ demand for withdrawal of 16 per cent GST on inputs of agriculture, he said. It means that cost of production will continue to affect the agrarian economy.