NA continues debate on federal budget

Islamabad: The National Assembly resumed its session in Islamabad on Tuesday with Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in the chair and continued debate on the budget 2013-14 which was presented in the house by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar the other day.

Initiating the debate‚ Ghous Bux Mehr expressed the confidence that the budget‚ presented by the new government‚ will help steer the country out of crises.

However‚ he said that increase in General Sales Tax will multiply the woes of the people. He said the increase should be withdrawn.

He asked the government to immediately initiate work on exploration of Thar Coal reserves for long-term solution of electricity crisis.

He also proposed steps for revival of Pakistan Railways and Pakistan International Airlines.

Ghous Bux Mehr said subsidy should be given to farmers in fertilizers to enhance the agri yield.

Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan welcomed budgetary proposals including increase in salaries‚ Ramadan Package and laptop and housing schemes. He said the government should take special measures for the relief of farmers‚ which will help increase the agriculture productivity.

Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said one percent increase in GST will result in price-hike which will directly burden the common people. He said measures should be taken to address the electricity and gas crises‚ which has adversely affected the economy.

He said pilferage of electricity should be stopped forthwith as well as recovering outstanding bills from the defaulters.

The House referred to the concerned committee the privilege motion moved by Khawaja Sohail Mansoor against DG Passport. In his motion‚ Khawaja Sohail Mansoor complained that he recently visited the office of DG Passport Zulfiqar Cheema but he did not properly treat him.

Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan said all the elected members are respectable and honourable and no official could be allowed to ridicule them. He said not only the privilege committee but the Interior Ministry will also conduct inquiry into this incident.

Shafqat Mahmood described the budget as pro-rich and anti-poor. He criticized increase in the taxes of low-income groups.

He said twenty-five percent tax has been increased of those drawing fifty thousand rupees and thirty-five percent of those getting sixty thousand. On the contrary‚ no increase has been made in salaries of those drawing one hundred and fifty thousand rupees. Shafqat Mahmood said no effort has been made to bring new people in the tax net.

He said anomalies in this tax regime should be checked besides the decision to increase the GST should be reversed.

Describing the budget as a traditional one‚ Khawaja Sohail Mansoor said the new budget is contrary to the manifesto of the government. He demanded withdrawal of tax on wedding halls and revival of old industrial units.

Syed Mustafa Mahmood said the budget envisage no measures for improvement of economy and overall law and order situation. He said targets set in the budget are unrealistic.

Syed Naveed Qamar said the budgetary proposals will trigger inflation and add to the woes of poor people. Criticizing hike in prices of electricity‚ he said the government should explore new avenues of revenue to meet its expenditures.

He said the government should give a plan to massively increase the electricity generation. Work on Thar Coal Project should be expedited to address the electricity demand and supply gap. He said the government should also clarify its position on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project.