Politics: (Mini-budgets are undemocratic: Senator Sherry Rehman)

ISLAMABAD: Vice President PPP Senator Sherry Rehman criticized the federal government here on Thursday on issuing another mini-budget to make up for its failure to expand the tax net.

Terming ‘mini-budgets’ a “regrettably regressive practice” to comply with IMF conditionalities, she said that the federal government continues to evade parliamentary consultation on economic affairs of the country. “Our entire economic policy ignores public input, regardless of how the common man gets affected, nor is the annual budget of any significance anymore” she said.

The federal government issued a mini-budget this week, introducing Rs40 billion in additional taxes to meet conditions set by the IMF before the next tranche of the Extended Fund Facility is released.

“Despite the different explanations given by the finance ministry about the recent tax moves, it is clear that the real objective is to bridge the FBR’s revenue shortfall ahead of the next IMF tranche.

The government has repeatedly failed to meet its own revenue targets, despite a significant shuffle in the tax bureaucracy. With little to show in terms of actual performance, the finance ministry continues to rely on symbolism,” Sherry Rehman observed.

As many as five ‘mini-budgets’ were introduced during the last fiscal year by the federal government, without any parliamentary approval. In most cases, the announcement was preceded by a failure to meet quarterly revenue targets set by the government.

The IMF has also directed the government to refrain from issuing statutory regulatory orders with the objective of bringing down the fiscal deficit. “Changing the nomenclature of SROs will not make a difference to the practice of using executive authority to impose or exempt taxes,” she concluded.

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