Have to put national interests above politics: Shaikh

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue, and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Wednesday have to put national interest above politics and the government has a message for the public of decreasing its expenditures.

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Speaking in a press conference post unveiling of the federal budget for the fiscal year 2019-20, the Adviser to PM said country’s economy is going through a difficult phase and it is the government’s responsibility to combat that phase.

Shaikh said half of the income from the combined tariffs is spent on loan payments and the past governments took $100 billion worth of loans. He said there was a clear decrease in exports due to which the price of the dollar increased in the market, and the exporters were given certain privileges in order to increase the exports.

Shaikh said in order to balance income and expenditures, the scope of tariffs was increased and there were efforts made to overcome the internal deficit. He said compared to well-developed countries, rich strata in Pakistan pay lesser taxes.

Shaikh said for the first in the history of the country, the military leadership voluntarily refrained from taking increments from the budget and the Pakistan Army froze their expenses on the level of last year’s expenditures.

Shaikh said for the payment of interest of past loans Rs2900 billion were fixed. He said the government has to make the poor strata feel like it is with them and the amount was raised from Rs100 billion to Rs191 billion for financial assistance of the poor strata.

Shaikh said a subsidy for the electricity consumers using less than 300 units and for the subsidies alone, Rs216 billion were dedicated. He said for the development budget for dams, roads in Karachi, Balochistan and tribal districts, Rs950 billion were fixed and for the merged tribal districts of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), Rs152 billion were fixed.

Shaikh said although no tax was imposed on the exporters, the tax will be levied on exporters buying items in Pakistan. He said a 4 per cent tax was levied n the foreign imports while the customs duty on raw imports has been lessened to zero in an effort to decrease the price of the commodities.

Shaikh said on the wages of grade-1-16 officers, a 10 per cent increase has been put forth and the changes have been made in the ratio of income tax levied on the wages. He said the new ratio of tax levied on wages will not affect workers with lower income.

Shaikh said the government will try its best to achieve targets set up by the tariffs as the country cannot stand on its feet until those targets are achieved.

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