- Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin says focus remains on agriculture sector
- Roadmap made to lift 4 million households out of poverty, adds Tarin
The National Assembly has approved the amended Finance Amendment Bill 2021 on Tuesday in Islamabad.
The National Assembly session was first chaired by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, after which Asad Qaiser presided over the session and Qasim Suri joined the members for counting.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, former president Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and other opposition members were also present in the session.
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin moved a motion for taking up the Finance Amendment Bill 2021 under consideration in the House which was opposed by the opposition. The House took verbal approval of the motion to introduce the Finance Bill, which was challenged by Nawab Talpur after which the Speaker directed for counting.
The speaker directed the members to stand up for the movement, which was passed by 172 votes to 138 votes.
Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, Shaukat Tarin said that the core inflation remains at 7%, however, the food inflation has risen because due attention was not given to the agricultural sector by the previous governments, making Pakistan a net importer of food items.
“We are importing wheat, sugar pulses, ghee etc,” he said, adding that the international prices of food commodities are at their highest level which has led to food inflation. “The solution to this issue is to emphasize on agriculture and improve its production,” said Tarin.
In 2017-18, Rs1.6 billion was allocated to the agriculture sector, however, in the upcoming budget federal, Rs63 billion has been allocated by the federal government, the finance minister said.
He said Pakistan is also giving exemptions worth billions of rupees to this sector on fertilizers and pesticides. He pointed out that the provincial governments are also spending on the agriculture sector.
He said it is the first budget that has given a roadmap to uplift four million poor households by providing interest-free loans to them. He said these households will also be provided with Sehat Insaaf Cards and equipped with technical skills.
Talking about poverty levels, Tarin said that the government is taking direct action and the poverty rate would come down.
He said that Section 203A (powers to arrest) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 has been reformed, however, willful defaulters of tax will be arrested. “If we do not increase the tax to GDP ratio to 20%, and achieve a growth rate of 6-8%, we will not be taken care of our citizens,” he said.
Speaking on the finance bill 2021, the opposition members said the government should focus on promoting education and checking population growth. They said a taxation system should be evolved such that reduces the burden on the common man.
They said relief should be provided to the masses and incentives be given to the agriculture sector in order to bolster its productivity.
Talking on the floor of the Parliament, PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah, who was attending the session under production order, criticised the budget, saying that it failed to meet expectations. He further said that again the health and education sectors remained largely ignored in the budget.
He said the government collectively proposed taxes amounting to around Rs1,100-1,200 billion, adding that a good budget ensured that people had food on their tables.