ISLAMABAD: As the government and the opposition held each other responsible for the country’s economic mess and price hike in the Senate on Thur­sday, a minister conceded that the proposed budget for the next year is eventually an IMF budget.

“…..yes, this is an IMF budget, but it was the PTI government that signed the deal and then reneged on it just for political gains, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said while taking part in the budget discussion.

The PPP senator called for introducing a homegrown economic model, free from influence of international financial institutions to achieve sustainable and exclusive growth for social prosperity of the country.

She said the last government, despite agreement with the IMF, started a Rs500 billion unfunded subsidy programme, besides freezing the prices petroleum products when they were increasing in the international market.

She also accused the PTI government of compromising FATF, going slow on CPEC and angering all partners just for vanity politics.

PPP Senator Yousuf Raza Gilani alleged that the PTI government gave relief packages with mala fide intention, foreseeing their ouster from power.

“We had two options before us: either to leave everything to be done by a government after new elections or taking tough decisions, as an interim setup could not take major policy decisions. We opted for the hard way and we know public is unhappy but is aware of ground realities,” he noted.

Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani demanded announcement of the new NFC Award before the next budget to ensure equitable distribution of resources among all the federating units.

PTI Senator Shaukat Tarin asked how the revenue collection targets would be achieved, terming them unrealistic. He wondered while they were debating the proposed budget tabled in the National Assembly, how would a new budget on fresh IMF conditions be discussed, which envisaged, among other things, levying of Rs440bn additional taxes.

“The economy can’t turn bad overnight, if it was left by PTI regime in a such a good shape. But we are here for the state and not politics and are taking very difficult decisions. We expect the opposition to also end the blame-game,” emphasised Leader of the House and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.

Meanwhile, the house unanimously adopted various recommendations furnished by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance for incorporation in the finance bill 2022-23.

Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Saleem Mandviwala presented his report on the Finance Bill 2022 that was adopted by the house.

The Senate recommended to the National Assembly that percentage salary increase of government employees in grade 1 to 16 should be greater than those in higher grades.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2022

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