Opposition criticises Budget 2021, deems it 'anti-people'

Updated 12 Jun 2020

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PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has said that the Budget 2021 lead to increased inflation and unemployment. — AFP/File
PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has said that the Budget 2021 lead to increased inflation and unemployment. — AFP/File

The opposition on Friday, shortly after the PTI-led federal government unveiled the FY2021 Budget, criticised the Centre for what they called was an 'anti-people' budget.

PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif termed the budget "anti-people", saying that it would lead to increased inflation and unemployment. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the PTI had presented a "disappointing, traditional" budget at a time when the country was facing historic challenges.

"This is not a budget but a prescription for destruction," Shehbaz said in a statement. "Whatever signs of economic progress are left in the country, will be ended because of the current government's budget. The PTI government first tried to hide its inefficiency first behind PML-N and then behind the coronavirus pandemic."

He questioned the government's performance, noting that it was the first time the country's gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted in 68 years. "The fiscal deficit has never been in two digits in the country's history," he added.

He said that the budget's targets were "unrealistic" and there was concern that it would increase the difficulties of the people. He added that the incumbent government was the first one which was "unable to achieve its own targets for revenue, fiscal deficit and GDP growth".

Shehbaz said the government could not "hide behind the corona pandemic", saying that its performance was "dismal" even before the pandemic's outbreak. "This budget has only been created to benefit the finances of PTI members and its allies," he claimed.

"The revenue tax collection of Rs3,800 billion against the target of Rs5,555bn is far less than the tax collection by the PML-N government two years ago. Why did the production of cotton decrease by 6,9 per cent when it was not affected by corona?" he questioned.

"This government has increased the country's debt by 30pc in two years and it plans to incur more debt so that the future of this country's next generation will be kept mortgage in foreign banks," he said.

In a statement, Bilawal said that the PPP "completely rejected" the budget. "It does not give any importance to the dangers facing this country. This PTI-IMF budget is anti-people," he added.

He said that the budget provided relief only to the rich while the common man was given "difficulties and difficulties only". He added that salaries and pensions had not been increased even though "every Pakistani labourer, poor person and farmer should have been provided protection and relief in the budget".

Bilawal said that "every Pakistani should reject the PTI's budget" and added that the PPP along with other opposition parties would soon convene a multi-party conference on the budget.

Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal also said that the PTI government even after two years was "unable to collect tax equal to that collected in the PML-N government's last year".

'Budget just an accounting exercise led by IMF'

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that the government "squandered a huge opportunity to change priorities" through the recent budget and termed it "just an accounting exercise led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)".

In a tweet, she said that it was "not a national budget for a country facing a crisis".

Speaking to Geo News, Rehman said: "My real issue is that neither the opposition nor the finance commission was taken on board before announcing the budget. My suspicion is that they will announce a rolling budget every three months based on IMF's push and the amount of loans they've taken means that we won't be able to see much relief for the common man."

She claimed that the PTI government had only "moved the numbers backwards and forwards", adding that it was an "anti-Pakistan" budget.

The FY2021 Budget was revealed by Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar during a session of the National Assembly earlier today. Among the major figures he quoted, the minister said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) revenue target was kept at Rs4.95 trillion for next year while defence allocations amounted to around Rs1.3 trillion. The federal development programme was budgeted at Rs650 billion to support growth prospects.

Azhar emphasised that "no new tax was introduced in this budget". He said the need of the hour was an expansionary fiscal policy which the government was implementing.