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Fawad Chaudhry says PTI govt doesn’t plan to rollback tax breaks announced by PML-N

September 13, 2018


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry briefs media about cabinet meeting at PID Media Centre. —APP
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry briefs media about cabinet meeting at PID Media Centre. —APP

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday clarified that the government does not plan on changing the tax rate for salaried people or increase the prices of gas and electricity, RadioPak reported.

Responding to a question during the news briefing on decisions made in the federal cabinet meeting, held earlier in Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, Chaudhry asserted that all the media reports about revising tax rate for salaried class and increase in gas and electricity prices were baseless.

Earlier there were reports that the PTI-led coalition government looked set to reverse the tax concessions of the previous government which were designed to benefit high-earning individuals substantially more than the middle-class workforce.

The hike in fuel prices and tax rate, Chaudhry said, went against the "philosophy" of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, as it did not wish to burden the salaried class and farmers.

The information minister said that any amount contributed to the Diamer-Bhasha Dam Fund will be exempt of income or withholding tax.

He announced that the federal cabinet had decided to dissolve the Capital Authority and Development Division, adding that the Capital Development Authority would now be answerable to the Ministry of Interior.

The information minister claimed that the government had recovered state land worth more than Rs7.5 billion due to its recently-held encroachment drive, which he said, will continue.

Criticising the former government, the information minister said that the Punjab government had to spend Rs8 billion in subsidy for the Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi metro bus services every year as the busses had been hired instead of being bought. He said it was up to the current Punjab government to decide whether to continue paying subsidies for the bus services.

Chaudhry said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will not have to pay any amount in subsidies to the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit, as the busses will be bought instead of being rented. The project's cost is currently estimated at over Rs68 billion.

Speaking about the decisions taken for the agricultural sector, the minister said that the government had decided to import 0.1 million tonnes of urea. The government will also ensure that farmers have access to fuel fertiliser plants so that urea requirement can be met for the upcoming Rabi crop season.

Dawn has reported that the PTI government is also considering an amnesty scheme for over a million people who are being selected for income tax audit over the years, but the Federal Board of Revenue is facing problems to clear this huge pendency.

Besides, a series of measures are being proposed that seek to impose quantitative restrictions, increase rates of regulatory duties and, in some cases, restrict imports of certain commodities to control the rising import bill of the country.

The previous PML-N government had given sweeping tax cuts to low salary earners, raising the exemption threshold almost three times to Rs1.2 million from Rs400,000. As a result, estimated 700,000 taxpayers fell out of the tax net. The total return filers in the tax year 2017 were 1.4 million.