ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lambasted Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government on Friday for imposing a supertax on large-scale industries, saying it would rattle the economy, increase unemployment, and inflation.
Speaking at a presser, the PTI secretary-general, Asad Umar, said that the supertax imposed by the “imported” prime minister, would also shoot up imports and push the country into further economic crises.
“It is a huge blow to the growing industries as the imported regime has no plan but to destroy every sector of the country to hide its incompetence,” he maintained.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister announced a 10 per cent super tax on sectors including sugar, oil and gas, cement, steel, airlines, fertilisers, LNG terminals, textile, banking, automobile, cigarettes, beverages, and chemicals.
High-net-worth individuals will also be subject to a poverty alleviation tax. Those whose annual income exceeds Rs150 million will be subject to 1pc tax for Rs200 million, 2pc Rs250 million, 3pc and Rs300 million will be taxed 4pc of their income.
Soon after the announcement by the prime minister, Umar, a former minister for planning and development, rejected the prime minister’s assessment, saying the measures would further burden the public in the form of higher prices.
“This super tax is an attack on those sectors of the economy that have the potential of growth [...] that can increase production and livelihood [...] and this is the reason why the market lost 2,000 points during Shehbaz Sharif’s speech,” he lamented.
In the same breath, he said that there is no second opinion about it that how dangerous and fatal the budget is for the economy.
He further said that for the last 20 years, the country had a policy of gradually decreasing taxes on industries, but this regime, ‘imposed on the people of Pakistan’, has ruined it all now.
He said: “even now, despite increasing prices of every commodity – diesel, petrol, gas, and food items – the imported prime minister said that the deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will only be signed if the fund doesn’t make more demands.
“This is a joke with the public,” he said, adding: “and then you ask people to be thankful? Mian Sahab, you had a choice between protecting the public and hiding your corruption and you have chosen the latter”.
Umar also alleged that the government did not care about the masses because it knew they never chose it, adding all they care about are the people who brought them.
“How will the US be happy? Will it be happy by recognizing Israel? By extending ties with India or by giving bases to the US,” he asked.
Meanwhile, countering the prime minister’s remarks on the PTI leading the country towards a default, Umar said that when the Imran-led government was ousted, the foreign exchange reserves in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) were $16.4 billion, but now they had declined by half.
He alleged that the PML-N brought the country to the brink of default, adding, “In the last three months, they have come down exactly by half. So, Mr Prime Minister, it was you who has driven the country to default, not us.”
Umar further said that the PML-N government had presented the “real budget today” as the measures announced by the prime minister will destroy the economy.
According to the Constitution, he added, when the budget was presented, the Senate had a time of 14 days to debate on it and present its observations and reservations, but they named the budget presented on July 11 provisional.
“Then they let 14 days pass and made an announcement today in which taxes of billions of rupees were imposed. This is a violation of the Senate’s constitutional rights,” he added.
He, subsequently, demanded that since the budget was finalised today, the Senate should be given 14 days from today onwards to discuss it.
“If this doesn’t happen then the budget will become unconstitutional and can be challenged in the courts,” he added.
Meanwhile, the former federal minister and PTI leader, Hammad Azhar, said that the super tax meant taxing the already taxed even more, adding that it would squeeze the formal sector of the economy.
“The economy is nose-diving and such a measure at this time will reverse the industrialization momentum that PTI generated,” he said.
Azhar said that the industry was already facing crippling costs due to rising prices of commodities and energy, adding this super tax will be priced in their balance sheets and passed on to the customers in many cases. Means even higher prices for the public.
Another PTI leader and ex-information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the PSX meltdown showed the amount of confidence the nation had in the Shehbaz-led government.
“The government’s economic policies are making Pakistan bankrupt. Getting rid of this government is in the best interest of Pakistan,” he added.
Meanwhile, ex-finance minister Shaukat Tarin said that the market did not believe in the PML-N government anymore.
He took a dig at the PML-N and its finance minister Miftah Ismail, saying the market does not trust them any longer and the only solution is early polls to steer the country try out of the prevailing crises.
“Miftah Mian, with an overseas PhD, should have enabled you to acknowledge your own approved Economic Survey which documents stellar PTI performance in the last two years. You refuse to accept it as it exposes your narrative. Market does not believe you,” Tarin added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022