- Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman says govt has broken all its promises of providing economic relief
Criticising the government, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that it is bringing a tsunami of taxes through the mini-budget.
Debating on the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021 in the National Assembly on Wednesday, the PPP leader said that Prime Minister Imran Khan in June last year had promised that the country's economy will flourish, and that the people would be given a relief.
However, Bilawal added, now it is January and the government has broken all its promise of a ''zero tax budget'', adding that it is bringing instead a tsunami of taxes.
He said the mini-budget is a future arrangement by the government to take the country into poverty and unemployment.
Bilawal continued that the government had not even spared the pharmaceutical industry and had even imposed a tax on the contraceptive pill, adding that it was unable to control the population explosion or arrange basic facilities but was ready to impose taxes on birth control mechanisms.
"Everything has been taxed, baby food and milk too. You are snatching a morsel from the child's mouth, and harming women empowerment and choice," he said.
The PPP leader added that the burden of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would fall on the common man, warning that it would lead to economic slaughter across Pakistan.
"You have broken all records of negative growth, inflation, increase in poverty and unemployment rates. When we say this is not tabdeeli (change) but destruction, we are telling the truth. You cannot be entitled to your own facts."
Meanwhile, Minister of Energy Hammad Azhar said that when it was his turn to address the floor, the opposition walked out. In a tweet, Azhar said, "3 hours speech by Shehbaz Sharif and an 1 hour 45 minutes by Bilawal. Treasury benches listened with patience."
"As my speech came, the combined opposition ran away from the assembly on pretext of ministers absence. But 7 federal ministers present in the house."
Addressing the floor, Azhar defended the government's economic performance, saying that it took measures to improve the economy.
"If we had taken the advice of the opposition, we would have had even more inflation now. But we took a data-driven and scientific method to handle Covid-19. Our economy grew more than four per cent as a result of those measures."
On Tuesday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif said that it was disgusting to see that the country is being mortgaged to its hilt for the sake of bucks, which will certainly lead the country to bankruptcy.
“A nation with a begging bowl in one hand and atom bomb on the other is like you are groping in the dark unless you make your country economically strong. Unless you stop begging, I’m afraid to say even the nukes of the country are not safe, for which we made every effort to safeguard the security of the country,” he added.
“The finance minister had said that Imran Khan would stand up to the IMF [...] he had said that a mini-budget would not be introduced and that there would be a tax-free budget. But I proved correct merely after seven months about what I’d said on June 12, 2021,” he added.
Prior NA sessions
On December 31, the approval of the Finance (supplementary) Bill, 2021 and State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was again deferred after the National Assembly (NA) session was adjourned for an indefinite period.
The session commenced with Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri in chair. However, the session was only held for 12 minutes.
The session was adjourned a day after the opposition pointed out the quorum in the House. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had laid the bills.
The joint opposition staged a protest against the mini-budget and the bill, saying it is being done on dictation of the IMF.
Soon after National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser took up the agenda, the opposition parties objected to overextension of a bunch of ordinances, saying the constitution, as well as a verdict by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, categorically says a lapsed ordinance – whether it is lapsed by one day or more – cannot be extended.