An exclusive interview with Zubair Tufail

Agha Masood

KARACHI: Zubair Tufail is a former president of FPCCI, an apex body of the business community of Pakistan. At present he is the president of United Business Group (UBG). Zubair is widely travelled, humble by nature and is very popular in social circles and media. He gave the following interview about the Federal Budget, the excerpts of which are as under:
Q: What are your comments about the Federal Budget 2021-2022? A: Before I give my opinion about the Budget, I must say it has been made in a very difficult circumstances i.e. COVID-19 and its adverse impacts on Pakistan economy and its people. Therefore, I should appreciate the Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin for presenting such a balance budget – it is basically pro-business and development oriented.
Q: What is total outlay? A: I think it is in the vicinity for Rs.9 trillion – in this sense it’s a historic budget with such a huge outlay. Q: Which sector will benefit from the budget? A: Agriculture Sector. However great emphasis has been placed on industrial sector. However, the agriculture sector provides food security to the people of Pakistan; in the past this sector was neglected. The Prime Minister has allowed duty-free import of agriculture input from China – to my mind it’s a good step as well as visionary. Q: How much money has been earmarked for development? A: Almost Rs.2.1 trillion. Its 38% more than the previous budget. The provinces will get good share out of this amount. The federal spending (PSDP) will be Rs.900 billion.
Q: What steps have been taken to increase revenue? A: The Finance Minister wants to expand the tax net; while the FBR will collect the money from tax payers as well from non-filers, it is very sad to note that elite of Pakistan do not pay tax honestly. However, the FBR will not use coercive methods to bring non-tax payers into tax net. It is observed that only 1.1 million people pay tax out of 200 million. However, people must pay tax to support the social sector, especially in Health and Education. Q: Are you sure economy will rise by 4%? A: Yes, I am confident, the economy will grow by 4%. However, to maintain the growth rate every sector will have to work hard.
Q: How about the poor section of the society? A: The present govt wants to alleviate poverty, the Ehsaas programme is meant to help poor. This programme will continue as desired by the Prime Minister. Moreover Rs.600,000 interest-free loan will be given to every household, its big commitment. Q: What is your comment about cost of living?
A: The present govt has been facing problems as far as the cost of living is concerned, especially the food inflation as a common man has been feeling insecure. However, some measures have been taken in the Federal Budget to reduce the effect of food inflation. The govt. wants to control rising prices of commodities down, benefiting the common man.
Q: What are the achievements of the govt as reflected in the Federal Budget? A: The exports have increased, especially in textile sector and IT. The total exports as it stands today is $25 billion. The flow of foreign remittances has also increased it is a proof that expatriates have full confidence in the present govt. The foreign remittances are almost 23 billion US dollars.
Q: The budget was passed easily, where was the Opposition who had declared to gave tough time to the govt?
A: Yes, the Opposition had been declaring to give tough time to the govt, but failed. The Leader of the Opposition was absent when the Finance Bill was passed. Moreover, the Opposition did not come forward with any good suggestions to bring about changes in the final draft of the budget.
Q: What will be the impact of the budget? A: As I told you it is a business-friendly budget which would help revive the economy which will enhance business activities especially in the construction sector and its allied industries. The job opportunity will increase for both skilled and unskilled workers. The budget will have positive impact pushing the economy forward.

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