Senators ask govt to focus on common man



ISLAMABAD: Terming the annual budget 2014-15 as a corporate budget, the opposition legislators in the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday demanded the government change its priority and focus on the common man instead of the elite class only. 
They said the government has adopted a regressive form of taxation, which impacts all people, mainly the common people, irrespective of their capacity to pay. They asked the government to go for direct taxation instead, which will impact those who people only who have the capacity to pay. The opposition ridiculed the 10 percent ad hoc relief in the government servants’ salaries and suggested increase in salaries on regular basis. They also pleaded for more incentives to the agriculture sector.
It noted that the government has announced a reduction of GST on tractors from 16 percent to 10 percent, but excluded its spare parts, meaning that full benefit was not passed on to the farmer community. The legislators were of the view that the SROs culture had totally collapsed the national economy and demanded its removal. They said it benefits only the rich and corporate segments of society. They said the PML-N government has allocated more funds to the developmental schemes of Punjab at the cost of other three provinces. 
Such discrimination, they said, will further enhance the sense of deprivation and hatred among smaller provinces. Taking part in the debate, MQM’s Abdul Rashid Godil regretted that there is shortage of gas in Sindh, which meets 70 percent of the entire country’s needs. After the 18th Amendment, he said, it is the constitutional right of Sindh to provide gas first to its residents and supply the surplus to other provinces. “Punjab’s industries are using Sindh’s gas, but the province of origin is deprived of this resource, which is totally injustice legally,” he claimed. 
He noted that for the last three years, the MQM has been presenting a shadow budget parallel to the national budget, but no government has adopted its positive points. “Today, Bangladesh is far ahead of Pakistan in cotton export, because they stressed on value addition, but Pakistan only exports it in raw farm, which is a wrong policy of the government,” Godil said. Pakistan People’s Party legislator Nawab Yousaf Talpur stressed more incentives to agriculture sector. 
“The 2.1 percent growth in agriculture sector is not sufficient to meet the ever growing population of the country; therefore, it is essential to boost its production,” Talpur said. According to an IRSA report, he said, the country is confronting 18 to 33 percent water shortage, and if appropriate measures are not taken the situation will worsen and totally collapse the agriculture sector. He also regretted reduction of subsidy in the budget, which is Rs 203 billion for 2014-15 against over Rs 321 billion in the outgoing fiscal year. “Reduction in subsidy means ignoring poor segment of society,” he said.

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