Islamabad, June 16, 2021: Speaking at the Senate Finance Revenue & Economic Affairs Committee meeting, while addressing the Finance Minister, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “People are still reeling from the shock of the budget but just now Tabahi Sarkar has dropped another petrol bomb on them. Budget 2020-21 has not even passed yet but petrol prices have been increased by Rs 2.13 per litre whereas the price of high-speed diesel has also been increased by Rs1.79/litre, which is an added burden of billions on consumers. Within a span of six days, your government has come up with another mini budget”.
“The government had claimed that they were renegotiating with the IMF and that they have refused to meet IMF’s strict conditions but we see no details on the way forward on key issues like inflation and unemployment. All we see are a slew of hidden and open indirect taxes, and tariffs worth billions on the people of Pakistan. Instead of providing relief to the bottom of the pyramid who are already suffering from unemployment, poverty and inflation, the government has now increased petrol prices. Budget 2020-21 does not even address these important issues. What is going on?” she asked.
Rehman said, “All agreements need to be presented to the parliament but we are not aware of the bargains which are being transacted with the IMF. Why is the parliament being kept in the dark? All our governments have brought IMF programs but none were like this. This IMF deal is being severely criticized”.
“Public debt has jumped by a whopping 55% since 2018, and now it stands at Rs 44 trillion which is the equivalent to almost 90% of GDP. These figures speak for themselves but the government is too busy with their attention seeking antics to care about the state of our economy. Treasury members throwing budget books at the opposition in the National Assembly and not following the decorum of the House is shocking. The government must be told to respect the sanctity of the parliament,” she added.
Rehman said, “Most of the 900 billion development budget has been given to the MNAs disguised as SDG expenditure when in fact, it should be going to the provinces. Sindh and even other provinces are actually meeting their tax revenue targets unlike the federal government”
“PTIMF is now planning to collect Rs 242 billion through enforcement measures which will most likely come under indirect taxes. On top of this, Tabahi Sarkar will now include petroleum levy as part of FBR collection without inserting it under the NFC mechanism which is a violation of the Constitution,” she added.
Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman advised the Finance Minister to take back the draconian provision of 203A from the Finance Bill to which he agreed to look into and proposed amendments. She concluded by saying, “The provinces are objecting to the petroleum levy. Actually, there should be no levy but if there is a petrol levy then it needs to go to the provinces. In the end, it should be up to them to discard it or not”.