No mini-budget to come, this budget focuses on uplift of the poor: S. Tarin

ISLAMABAD: Ruling out the chances of bringing any mini-budget, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has said the budget 2021-22 focuses on uplift of the poor and sustainable economic growth through incentives for various sectors including agriculture, industry and housing.
Addressing a post-budget press conference on Saturday along with Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiyar and Adviser to the Pm on Commerce and Trade Abdul Razak Dawood, Tarin said the main emphasis of the budget is to protect the vulnerable segments of the society.
He said that four million poor households, to be accessed through the Ehsaas Survey, will be provided with interest free business and farming loans. He said these households will also be given loans to build their own houses. Besides, they will be given health cards and one member of each family will be imparted technical training.
The finance minister said that incentives have been given to uplift both the agriculture and industries which will increase employability. He said the incentives in the industries are not only textile specific but have been extended to different sectors.
He said taxes have been abolished to facilitate the investment of Chinese friends in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) being set up under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
The finance minister said the taxes on the information technology (IT) have been rationalised in order to exploit its full potential. He said, “We want to substantially enhance this sector’s exports in the years to come.”
Tarin said that duties have been abolished on almost all the raw materials to strengthen the local industries and reduce imports. The finance minister was confident that the prices of cars up to 850cc will come down following the tax relief given to the automobile sector. He said the incentives given to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will also help achieve higher growth in the industry.
The finance minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has given special emphasis to the housing sector which will help strengthen the industries allied with it.
He said the government has increased subsidies, especially in the power sector. He said, “We will bring efficiency in the power sector. DISCOs will be operated through independent boards and they will be privatised. Line losses will be reduced and recoveries will be enhanced.”
The finance minister expressed the confidence that the revenue target of Rs4.7 trillion set for the current fiscal year will be achieved. He said, “We will have to enhance the tax to GDP ratio to 20 percent in a period of seven to eight years. Our focus is to bring more people into the tax net instead of imposing more taxes on the people already paying taxes.”
He maintained that a tax collection target of Rs5.8 trillion has been set for the next fiscal year, which he will achieve through innovative approaches including the use of latest technology.
He said that allocation for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) has been enhanced significantly to take the country towards sustainable growth.
He said that in order to broaden the tax net, the government will bring in a prize scheme to encourage people to demand proper receipts for purchases they make from retailers. He said the government will introduce a scheme under which prizes amounting to Rs250 million will be distributed among receipt holders every month. He added the move would help in documentation of the economy.
Tarin said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has started collecting data to identify potential taxpayers, who are eligible to pay tax but have not yet been brought into the tax net. About 312,000 potential tax payers can be brought into the tax net through these measures, he added.
Tarin said some 10,000 points of sale (PoS) were currently under use but their number would be increased to 60,000. He said the government expects to collect Rs100 to Rs150 billion additional revenue through the PoS system.
Speaking on the occasion, Khusro Bakhtiyar said the government is incentivising the small and medium enterprises sector, especially automobile industry, to increase job opportunities for the youth. He said an industrial zone is being established on 1,500 acres of land in Karachi.
He said that peak hour charges in electricity bills are being revoked and industrial units using more electricity will get concessions in tariff.
Abdul Razak Dawood said that massive relief measures have been taken for import of raw material to strengthen local industry and encourage “Made in Pakistan.”
Addressing the news conference, Sania Nishtar said that Rs260 billion have been earmarked in the next budget for Ehsaas Programme.
She said that a six-month instalment of Rs12,000 is being enhanced to Rs13,000 under the Ehsaas Kafalat Programme. She said Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme’s next phase will commence from the upcoming week, which will benefit over 10 million people.
Sania Nishtar said that scope of Ehsaas Waseela-e-Taleem Programme has been increased from primary to secondary and higher secondary level, and now children studying in these levels can also benefit from this initiative. She said 65,000 scholarships for under-graduates will be given during the next year.
Responding to a question, the Finance Minister said the federal cabinet did not approve the proposal to enhance charges of SMS, mobile phone calls and internet.
Answering another question, he hoped that inflation will remain below eight percent in the coming years. – TLTP

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