LAHORE: Terming the proposed 10 per cent increase in pay and pension of government employees ‘peanuts’, the working class says the federal budget has not only lacked steps for meeting obligations under the GSP Plus regime but also measures to contain inflation.

Unprecedented inflation had been the concern of 80 per cent of country’s population, said a resolution unanimously adopted at a meeting of the representatives of constituent trade unions of the Pakistan Workers Confederation at the Labour Hall here on Wednesday.

The resolution said salaries and pension of workers employed both in public and private sectors should be in commensurate with price hike. House rent, conveyance and hill allowances of employees of federal, provincial governments, semi-government and autonomous bodies should have been increased at least by 30pc of their basic pay scales.

There should have been a substantial increase in marriage and death grants, rate of educational scholarships under the Benevolent Fund as well as maternity charges.

Absence of price control committees had given profiteers, stockists and black marketers an opportunity to trigger price spiral. The government should have announced prompt, ruthless and indiscriminate measures against the elements responsible for ‘artificial price hike’ in essential commodities.

“Under the GSP plus scheme, Pakistan would have to fully implement its commitments under 27 international conventions on human rights, good governance, labour and environmental standards.

Pakistan’s adherence to these conventions is obligatory,” said the resolution presented by veteran trade union leader Khurshid Ahmed along with PWC Punjab President Rubeena Jameel, Chairman Yousaf Baloch and others.

ENERGY SHORTAGE: Businessmen are of the view they will not be able to benefit from the initiatives taken in the federal budget unless the government takes serious measures to resolve energy shortage.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood said in a statement on Wednesday that industries in general and the textile sector in particular had not been in accordance with the built up manufacturing capacity.

“The country is not fetching the full potential of foreign exchange earnings due to this under utilization. The incentives announced under the textile package will help enhance the industrial production.

The economy will receive impetus and growth acceleration resulting in creation of vast opportunities of employment which will help reduce poverty in the country, however, much will depend on the availability of a regular supply of gas and electricity to run the manufacturing units.

Pakistan is unlikely to fully utilize the GSP plus due to a severe energy crisis in the country,” he said while stressing revision of the industrial tariffs of gas and electricity as power tariff in Pakistan has already been highest in the region.

Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Shah Faisal Afridi thanked Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for allocating Rs73 billion for the Pak-China Economic Corridor.

“Broadening of tax net is the only way to increase revenues because one of the cardinal principles of taxation is that it should be levied on the basis of ‘capacity to pay’ and it will only be fair if all tax-related measures are implemented in consultation with the real stakeholders,” said Mr Afridi.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2014

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