Will address all concerns of business community before finalsing budget 2023-24: Dar
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is addressing a post-budget conference in Islamabad on Saturday.
“There is a tradition of holding a post-budget briefing to clarify things, I’m one of them, who had the honour to conduct them six times in the past and this is my seventh time,” he said in his opening remarks.
“I would try to discuss some of the details, but won’t repeat the whole hour-long budget speech here. However, I will discuss a few major details and from there we can go.”
The minister stated that there is a customary practice of forming two committees within the FBR — one for business-related issues and the other for technical matters.
The finance minister said that the Federal Board of Revenue chairman will obtain his approval on the matter and the committees will be formed by Monday.
According to him the purpose of these committees is to address any missed aspects and provide an opportunity for individuals with complaints or genuine recommendations to be heard and considered by the government.
He said that the PDM’s collation government aims to reverse all economic losses. “Our first objective is to go back to achieve 2017 economic indicators.”
Dar said that the FBR revenue target is Rs9,200 billion, while the total expenditure of the government is Rs14,400 billion. “Rs761 billion has been earmarked for pension.”
He further said that Rs61 billion has been earmarked for merged districts, a historic amount of Rs1150 billion has been earmarked for the development budget, Rs33 billion has been earmarked for IT and science and Rs1559 billion has been allocated for the development budget of provinces.
The PML-N leader said Rs7,303 billion has been earmarked for interest payment.
Dar went on to add that if there is development, people will get employment. The agricultural sector plays an important role in the improvement of the economy.
Sharing further details he said that the growth rate has been kept at 3.5 per cent, while the inflation target is 21 per cent, and the ratio of taxes to GDP is 8.7 percent.
“We have given special attention to agriculture. It was given the most benefits, we will try our best to go back to growth, put the country back on the development path,” he said.
In this regard, he said that Rs 50 billion has been earmarked for shifting tube wells to solar power, due under the Prime Minister’s Kisan Package. Due to the package agriculture has improved.
He said that there is a need to pay attention to high-quality seeds, tax duty on agricultural seeds has been abolished, and the duty on the import of agricultural machines has also been abolished.
Finance Minister Dar said that there is a need to increase the production per acre to overcome malnutrition, Rs 2225 billion has been earmarked for agricultural loans.
The Finance Minister said that the IMF believes that the growth rate can be 4 percent, and interest payment on loans is the biggest burden, in the last four years the loan has also doubled and the interest rate has also increased to 21 percent.
The Finance Minister said that overseas Pakistanis have been exempted from tax on buying houses and a golden card facility has been given.
He said that Pakistan is a nuclear power, and now it has to become an economic power, for him economic stability has been achieved. “Now we have to move towards increasing the growth rate.”
“The money has been allocated for women empowerment in the budget,” he said.
Dar said that customs duty has been abolished on raw materials of solar etc. in the energy sector, and Rs35 billion has been kept for targeted subsidy on flour, ghee, oil, and pulses. Efforts are being made to increase this amount to Rs 40 billion.
He said that the back of government employees has been broken due to inflation, which is why 35 percent relief has been given to employees of grades 1 to 16, and 30 percent ad hoc relief from grades 17 to 22.
Dar said that a 17.5 percent increase has been made for pensioners, after which the minimum pension will be Rs 12,000.
The Finance Minister said that the minimum salary has been increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 32,000, a health insurance card has been proposed for journalists, and the budget of the Benazir Income Support Program has been increased to Rs 450 billion.
The Finance Minister said that no tax has been imposed on milk. “I have been watching on TV since yesterday, the news of tax on milk is going on, I am clarifying that no tax has been imposed on milk.”