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The News

Published Date: Jun 24, 2013

No fiscal cushion for govt. to be innovative

Keeping
in view the present economic situation, budget presented by any party at this
time would have not been much different, said Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive
Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Dr
Suleri was addressing at a special post-budget seminar here on ‘Federal Budget
2013-14: An Overview’ organised by SDPI.Dr Suleri said that Pakistan is facing
enormous macroeconomic challenges which hardly leave any fiscal cushion for the
government to be innovative or to take popular measures. He said that
government has indicated to get bailout package from IMF and, therefore,
measures such as implementation of GST and reforms in power sector and public
sector enterprises were introduced to give a clear message to IMF.

"Measures
for adjustment taxation would help in documentation of the economy, and people
will be encouraged to register with the FBR. Likewise, the continuation of the
income support programme would satisfy the IMF’s demand for social safety nets
so that the adverse effects of structural reforms can be reduced for poor
people," he added.

Dr
Suleri lamented that all the provinces had presented deficit budgets which
shows fiscal irresponsibility on the part of provinces particularly after
receiving major chunk from federal divisible pool.

He
said that provinces could have given surplus budgets by improving provincial
tax to GDP ratio and reducing expenditure. He concluded that although economic
situation is not very promising but the new government can at least bridge the
trust deficit of people, donors and international community by introducing
transparency and good governance.

Senator
Saeed Ghani from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that PML-N government has
introduced measures such as RGST and tax amnesty schemes in the budget which it
had earlier opposed during PPP government. He said that this is a traditional
budget where poor and working class has been put under extreme pressure. He also
said that PMLN claims to end discretionary funds, but the budget has an
allocation of Rs115 billion under the head ‘new development initiatives’ which
had no details and would probably be used on discretion of the Prime Minister.

Dr
Arif Alvi, PTI MNA, called it an elitist budget where poor are further taxed
and rich were given benefits. He observed that instead of directly taxing the
rich, the government has conveniently resorted to increase GST. “This increase
already resulted into increase in inflation but unfortunately there is no
mention of addressing inflation in budget except establishing Sunday bazaars.”
He also criticised claim of ending circular debt in 60 days, which, he said,
was not possible without printing money as there is no other source available.

Qasier
Ahmad Sheikh, MNA from PML-N, said that present budget tried to give the
direction to economic revival. He said that Pakistan’s growth rate was
declining in last years and new budget tried to kick start economic growth and
increase revenues.PML-N MNA Arfa Khalid and Dr Vaqar Ahmad from SDPI also spoke
on the occasion.