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Budget

Proposal to tax internet data usage criticised as reactions to budget pour in

  • Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin announced proposals in speech earlier on Friday
Updated 11 Jun 2021

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government presented its third budget with a total outlay of Rs8,487 billion on Friday.

Apart from all the figures and analysis, the budget is also a day that allows Pakistanis to give their two cents on the country's economic conditions.

Presented by the newly-seated Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, the budget started off with usual sloganeering from the opposition members, much to the annoyance of many but something that has become a part of the speech in recent years.

“The traditional screaming and chanting inside the Parliament during the budget speech is so annoying. This trend should stop,” said journalist Wajahat Kazmi.

Members of the government lauded the measures taken in the Budget 2021-22. Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi termed it a ‘progressive budget’ and was of the view that it will benefit SMEs, non-conventional exports and will also generate mass level employment.

Meanwhile, skeptics were of the view that the budget will not bring any change in their daily lives.

Others expressed concern over the proposal to increase the tax on mobile internet usage. Former head of Digital Pakistan, Tania Aidrus, pointed out that taxing the internet further is a ‘regressive’ move, which will not help the move towards a 'Digital Pakistan'.

Pakistan targets 4.8% GDP growth in upcoming fiscal year

In its budget proposal, the government said that in order to "reap reasonable revenue, federal excise on mobile phone calls exceeding three minutes at Rs1 per call, SMS message at Rs0.1 per SMS, and internet data usage at Rs5 per GB is being proposed. This will result into mild taxation of a broad spectrum of population."

However, reports started circulating that the 'regressive measure' could be rejected when the Finance Bill is presented in the lower house of parliament.

Meanwhile, remembering past measures, an individual congratulated former finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh for ‘stabilizing and streamlining’ the economy.

Others were more critical of the government, terming the allotment of budget as ‘unfair’ and catering only to the elite.