Budget 2024-25: PTI stages protest in Senate against new tax proposals

Published June 13, 2024
Opposition members protest during Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s budget speech in the National Assembly, on Wednesday.—White Star
Opposition members protest during Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s budget speech in the National Assembly, on Wednesday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Even before the start of discussion on the budget proposals for the next financial year in the Senate, the PTI lodged its protest in the house on Wednesday against what it called the anti-people budget and proposed additional taxes to add to people’s misery.

Soon after a copy of the Finance Bill was laid in the house, Leader of the Opposition Syed Shibli Faraz rose in his seat to criticise the tax proposals.

He said levy of more taxes would only add to the misery of people who are already reeling under high inflation. He was interrupted by Senate Chairman Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to ask if it was his budget speech. Mr Faraz replied in the negative and said it was in protest against the plan to impose more taxes on people.

“Specially, when their mandate has not been accepted, we on behalf of the people of Pakistan, lodge our protest and condemn this high-handedness of the government where they are pushing the people against the wall,” he remarked.

Dar defends budget proposals, supports increase in salaries; debate on budget to start today

He claimed that this was the worst economic scenario the country has witnessed over the last 50 years. “We will obviously make our specific observations on the taxes, budget and the general figures.

He said the finance minister should satisfy this house and the people of the country as to why such punishment had been given to the citizens. The opposition leader was of the view that this had happened due to “incompetence, bad handling and mis-governance”.

“All what we have seen is the result of last 30 years where the economy has been ruined and badly governed. The parties responsible for it need to explain to the people why and how this country of some 250 million has been sunk into the debt,” he remarked. He also sought to know what plans “this unrepresentative government” has for people, economy and future of the country.

Deputy PM Ishaq Dar, who is also Lea­der of the House, defended the budget pro­­­posals, saying it was a matter of balancing the budget resources against revenues.

He specifically supported the proposal to increase the salaries of government employees working in Grade 1-16 by 25 per cent and that of Grade 17-22 by 20pc, besides 15pc increase in pensions.

He said the opposition leader has set a new precedent by starting to criticise the budget even before the commencement of the budget discussion. He said the government will welcome his budget speech and it was ready to listen to his points and respond. He, however, said making such sweeping statements was not appropriate.

Lawmakers from the opposition kept on chanting slogans against the budget when Mr Dar was speaking, and even after the house was adjourned to meet again on Thursday (today).

Earlier, Minister for Finance and Revenue, Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb laid the Finance Bill 2024 in the house as required under Article 73 of the Constitution. The Finance Bill, containing crucial financial proposals, was formally submitted to the Senate for consideration and detailed review.

The minister invited the senators to give their recommendations on the Finance Bill, which will be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration.

Chairman Gilani sought the recommendations of members on the Finance Bill containing the annual budget statement by Friday (June 14) but latest by 12 noon, making it clear that no recommendations would be entertained after that.

The proposals regarding the Finance bill shall be sent to the Committee on Finance and Revenue while recommendations pertaining to the PSDP to the Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiative.

The Senate Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiative shall examine the recommendations about the PSDP and forward these to the Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue by June 21, he said. The Finance and Revenue Committee shall submit its recommendations to the house on June 24.

Mr Gilani also said the Senate will start discussion on the Finance Bill on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2024

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