ISLAMABAD: As members from the treasury and opposition benches traded barbs in the Senate, a lawmaker from the ruling PTI said the government was ready for a charter of economy.
“We are for charter of economy,” Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, former parliamentary leader of the PTI in the Senate, said while taking part in the budget discussion.
He proposed formation of a Senate committee for it.
“Let’s the proposed committee be headed by the opposition,” he remarked.
Voicing his concern over the opposition rejecting the finance bill, he said the consequences must be kept in mind if the bill was not passed.
“Are you thinking of change of government by it,” he said, asking the opposition to think in the national interest.
He said any flaws in the document should be removed.
Ruling party lawmaker cautions opposition against rejecting finance bill
Holding the previous PPP and PML-N governments responsible for the current economic mess, he said the public debt was taken from Rs6 trillion to Rs30 trillion in the 10 years of PPP and PML-N rule.
He said most of the amount had either been siphoned off or wrongly spent in the interest of capitalists.
He said those criticising the IMF bailout package had obtained loans on high mark ups.
Justifying the decision to impose taxes to the tune of Rs5.55 trillion, he said there was an option available to obtain consumption based debts but the government opted for self-generated revenues and sustainable expenditure and development.
He said the government would tax the rich and give targeted subsidies to the poor.
Warning of a strict accountability, he said the government would not spare the corrupt, be they politicians or bureaucrats.
He also made it clear that those having black money would be nabbed in a few months if they failed to avail the amnesty scheme.
Chaudhry Tanvir of the PML-N termed the PTI’s sit-in outside Parliament House in 2014 as a conspiracy against the game changer CPEC project.
He said the sitting government was brought in under a conspiracy.
He said the purpose was to devastate the country’s economy and weaken its defence capability.
Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said if the government decision to freeze the defence budget was translated into real terms, it would face a cut because of the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar and an increase in overall volume of the federal budget 2019-20.
“On the other side, India is purchasing Rafale fighter jets and modern tanks and is increasing its defence budget continuously,” he remarked.
The JI lawmaker said the PTI-government in its first 10 months had failed to meet the basic economic targets set in the last fiscal year and the Economic Survey spoke volume about this.
Giving examples, he said the government had projected the growth rate of the GDP at 6.2pc but it remained at 3.2pc in the last fiscal year.
Similarly, the government had set inflation rate at six per cent but it remained at 9.1pc.
He said the budget should give a roadmap of an interest-free economy.
The government should announce the National Finance Commission Award without which the budget is unconstitutional.
“Direct taxes should be increased. There should be across the board accountability and there should be no tax amnesty scheme.”
He said the government should document the country’s 45pc undocumented economy.
He also said all political parties should sit together and give a charter of economy to revive the economy.
Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo of the PML-N also said the government should review its decision to freeze the defence budget.
The government has actually made a cut on the defence budget keeping in view the devaluation of the rupee and rising inflation.
“On the one hand, we are asking the army to move forward on eastern and western orders because of rising tensions there and on the other we have made a cut on its budge,” he said.
“I would strongly say that defence budget should be reviewed and it should be raised properly so that our army should be well-equipped to defend our country,” Senator Junejo said.
He said the budget was formed by foreign economic experts rather than local ones.
Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019