Hammad Azhar, Minister of State for Revenues, presenting Federal Budget 2019-2020 in the Nationa Assembly, Islamabad. Reuters
Dubai: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government presented a Rs6 trillion (Dhs147.72b) federal budget of 2019-20 on Tuesday. A cross-section of Pakistani expats and business heavyweights share their candid views with Gulf Today.
Ahmad Shaikhani, Senior Vice President, Pakistan Business Council Dubai told Gulf Today that he believes that the government has not given any relief to the masses as it was promised by Imran Khan. It is not a poor-friendly budget. Real estate sector has a new valuation table up to 85% and suggestions are for fixing the tax at 1 % and removal of 3% on lower tables. .
“Exemption for nonfilers property purchasing limit of 4 million is now finished. One-time tax on remittance and no further significant change or benefit for the overseas expat community.
“Since in last 6 month most of the items are inflated already. In my opinion the indirect taxation will increase the inflation and it will directly impact on the citizens of Pakistan. No direct relief on daily routine items.
Shan Saeed, Chief Economist, IQI Global: It’s a reformed sheet for the economy to balance at the macro level in the long run. Everyone has to do belt tightening now for the next 12 -15 months. The budget is based on ground reality taking into account the constraints Government has to face at the present moment. Experts are saying, the budget targets are fancy and ambitious. Debts are high and revenues falling short in recent times which are hampering government’s scope of making bigger plans in terms of fiscal and structural manoeuvring.
PTI government needs 2 years to bring confidence back in the economy. The emphasis should be provided to local investors in order to get confidence and FDI back into the economic landscape.
Mahmood Shaikhani, Managing Director, Shaikhani Group: A major section of Pakistan’s business community has appreciated the fiscal budget 2019-20 presented yesterday by the current government of Pakistan, mentioning that it was expected to be a balanced budget focusing more towards creating revenue streams for the Government to manage the fiscal deficit gap by focusing on plugging the loopholes in the tax regime and blocking avenues of whitening illegal money.
Giving the numbers, businessmen has quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan, post budget address of yesterday that in last 10 years almost PKR 2,400 billion foreign loans were taken by previous governments without any economic betterment.
Commenting on the statement issued by some members of the Pakistan business community yesterday, where it was mentioned that Pakistani expatriates have been ignored in the present budget, the businessmen have stressed that well-to-do Pakistan expatriates should be supporting the present government’s recent initiatives as the country is facing a difficult financial situation, which is caused due to financial mismanagement of previous governments.
Mian Munir Hans, President, PPP Gulf/Middle East: It is not a people-friendly budget. The poor masses have totally being ignored on the contrary inflation and unemployment rate will further increase. The growth rate has come down from 5.8 to below 3 per cent and inflation into double digit. After increasing the prices of oil gas electricity, medicine prior to the budget now prices of milk, sugar, cooking oil, cement, meat, fish are increased. 20% cut in the education and health sector.
Irfan Afsar Awan, Former President PTI Dubai: During such tough financial crisis, our PTI government’s budget 2019-20 is a clear display of our intent, which is nation stands by the weak and deprived. Based on PTI’s government austerity drive, ministers have agreed for a 10 per cent cut in salaries.
Rs 40 billion subsidy will be provided on gas and electricity. To support lower middle class, salaries of civilian employees from grade 1-16 have been increased by 10 per cent.
GST to remain unchanged at 17 per cent. 5 per cent ad hoc relief for government employees from grade 17 to 20. 10 per cent ad hoc relief for armed forces employees. Tax net will be increased as only 20,00,000 people in Pakistan file tax returns of them 600,000 are employees.
Bilal Amanullah Moti MRICS, MD, Windmills Real Estate Valuation Services: Pakistan is undoubtedly encountering serious challenges today in the financial, social, production and international relations areas. Can they be solved? Yes, over time, with relentless initiatives applied. Prime Minister has well clarified the reasons and the status of the current challenges in his speech yesterday. The budget 2019-2020 looks ambitious on tax collection, but its direction, priorities, increase/decrease adjustment appear conducive to improve the trade and current account balances and the country’s economy overall. I wholeheartedly appreciate the new government’s dedication and strategy towards resolving the challenges, especially a rigorous accountability process.
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