Federal budget likely on June 6
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to present the annual budget for 2005-06 on June 6, sources told Daily Times on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz presided over a meeting of the ruling coalition’s members of parliament at Prime Minister’s House to discuss dates for the budget. The parliamentarians demanded that Minister of State for Finance Omar Ayub Khan announce the budget.
Earlier, there were reports that the budget’s announcement might be delayed until June 10 but the majority of the parliamentarians insisted that June 6 be fixed as the date for the budget to be presented to the National Assembly.
Sources said former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali told the meeting that he had received reports that Salman Shah, adviser to prime minister, would announce the budget and insisted that the government must not assign a non-elected person to the job.
He suggested either the prime minister himself or the minister of state for finance make the budget speech. The participants of the meeting raised their hands, saying: “Omar Ayub should announce the budget.” However, the prime minister did not comment. During the meeting, the parliamentarians requested the prime minister allow a duty-free import of fertilisers to benefit the farming community. The MPs from the southern Punjab were more enthusiastic to get permission to import fertilisers without paying duty.
Referring to permission for importing some eatables from India, they said the duty-free import of fertilisers would result in increased production. The prime minister told the participants that the government would consider their demands and try to address them in the annual budget. The MPs requested the prime minister reduce the mark-up rates on agriculture loans. They said the procedure for purchasing tractors on instalments should be made easier for small farmers. The MPs belonging to the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) demanded electricity rates be reduced for Karachi.
Aziz asked the members of the National Assembly (MNAs) to ensure that they participated in the forthcoming budget session of the National Assembly. He said that that no new tax would be announced in the budget and that it would be poor-friendly and investor-friendly.
The meeting was attended among others by PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Rao Sikander Iqbal, Zafarullah Jamali, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Justice (r) Abdur Razzak Thahim and Haji Orakzai from the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas.