Islamabad , The National Assembly Wednesday resumed debate on the budget for the next fiscal year which was presented in the house the other day by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh. Participating in the debate, Humayun Saifullah pointed out that the country’s economy is in recession during the last four years.
The growth rate has slowed down to three point seven percent from the average four point eight percent. He said focus be made on the industrialization to enhance the GDP growth. He said the industrialization will serve as an engine of growth provided chronic energy shortages are addressed.
Humayun Saifullah suggested the government focus more on hydel power projects to resolve the energy crisis on permanent basis. He regretted that a paltry amount of only 40.7 billion rupees have been allocated in the budget for the hydel projects including Diamer Bhasha Dam and Neelum Jhelum. He said ample resources should be allocated for the speedy completion of all the hydel projects.
Humayun Saifullah said the government should go for direct taxation as the indirect ones are adversely affecting the lower and middle classes. Expressing concerns over the burgeoning debt and fiscal deficit, he said the private sector should be encouraged to take part in the development activities. Continuing his debate, MQM Parliamentary Leader Dr. Farooq Sattar said a strategy should be evolved to promote domestic and foreign investment in the country.
He said by reducing the prices of fuel and electricity we can attract the maximum investment. He demanded abolishment of Petroleum Levy to provide relief to the common man. Dr. Farooq Sattar said common man should be given relief by reducing the burden of taxes on them. He said the land-lords should be brought into the tax net to enhance revenues. He suggested the government to reduce General Sales Tax to twelve percent from sixteen percent.
The direct taxation should be enhanced to forty-five percent from the current thirty-two percent besides reducing the indirect taxes from sixty-eight percent to fifty-five percent. He said these steps will help put the economy on the right track for sustainable development. Jamshed Dasti congratulated President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on presenting a balanced budget despite tight fiscal space and other challenges.
He said the present government has initiated work on thirty-two dams including Diamer Bhasha Dam besides started work on the exploration of Thar Coal to deal with the energy crisis. He said Benazir Income Support Programme is a flag ship programme which is directly providing financial assistance to the poor segments of the society.
Jamshed Dasti said a step motherly attitude is being meted out to the Southern Punjab as the Punjab government has not started any major development project there. He said the establishment of Saraiki Province will not only remove the sense of deprivation of the people of the area but also bring prosperity to the entire country.
Syed Mustafa Mahmood said we should reduce our expenditures by cutting the size of the government. He said that tax collection system should be improved as well as lowering the percentage of tax. He said the private sector should be engaged in the production of power to meet this challenge effectively. This will also help bring down the prices of the electricity. Describing the budget as historic, Nawab Sher Waseer lamented the non-participation in the budget debate by the members of the PML [N].
He said the PML [N] should have participated in the debate to make it more according to expectations of the people. Referring to the energy crisis, he said the PPP government will resolve this problem at all costs with the support of the people. He said the government has decided to give subsidy on installation of solar tube-wells which will help save two thousand megawatt of electricity.
Regretting the attitude of PML [N] members in the House, Prince Mohiuddin said credit goes to Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani who through out his tenure followed the policy of reconciliation for the flourishment of democracy in the country. He said Prime Minister Gilani has run the government efficiently and always took important decisions to address the challenges.