ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday joined the protesting government employees to express solidarity with them outside Parliament House and lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) over price hike and growing unemployment and poverty in the country.
Nearly 300 government employees gathered outside the Parliament House when Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen was delivering the budget speech.
The protesters rejected the 10 per cent pay increase announced by the government and vowed to continue their protest.
Addressing the protesting employees soon after presentation of the federal budget, the PPP chairman said the PTI government had lied to the people and did not fulfil promises and the agreement made with the government employees. He said he would raise their demands in the parliament as well.
Mr Bhutto Zardari said inflation in Pakistan had increased manifold and poverty and unemployment had reached unprecedented high level during last three years. The government should have increased salaries to a maximum level amid worldwide pandemic, he said.
Mr Bhutto Zardari said the PPP government had increased salaries up to 120 per cent and pensions up to 100 per cent during its tenure. He said it was the government’s responsibility to increase salaries with the proportion of inflation. He said he had directed the Sindh government to set the least wages at Rs25,000.
“We will do everything in our capacity to stop this PTIMF budget in the National Assembly,” he declared.On the other hand, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said the government had announced the country’s historic and biggest-ever development budget of Rs900 billion.
In a tweet, he said certain concessions were given besides increase in salaries of the federal government employees. He said the share of provinces was being increased by 27 per cent, enabling the provinces to increase their development budget.
Mixed reaction came on the federal budget 2021-22 as the salaried class termed it anti-poor while the business community said it was a business friendly budget.
Pakistan Clerks Association Rawalpindi chapter rejected the 10pc increase in salaries and pensions of government employees. “Inflation increased by 100pc and salaries have been increased by just 10pc, so we rejected the budget,” said APCA Rawalpindi chapter President Chaudhry Waheed Murad while talking to Dawn.Former district nazim and ex-president of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Raja Tariq Mehboob Kiani termed the budget good for the business community as well as the agriculture sector.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and PTI government announced easy loans for farmers,” he said.
He said sale of vehicles up to 850cc will increase after ending taxes but the government should also give relief to cars up to 1300cc.“The government announced to provide technical education to the lower income families. It is a good initiative through which people will get better opportunities of earning. However, the government should increase vocational training centres so that maximum people will get benefit from this,” Mr Kiani said.
Meanwhile, RCCI termed the financial budget a balanced and business friendly.
RCCI president Nasir Mirza said the budget is balanced. The reduction in withholding tax from 17pc to 12pc will help in boosting trade activities.
“The tax revenue target of Rs5,800 billion can be achieved only when new taxpayers are added. We have reservations about proposing a third party audit. He said that relief of Rs42 billion in terms of customs duty is welcome,” he said.
RCCI Group Leader Sohail Altaf said Rs900 billion had been earmarked for development which will increase economic activities.
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2021