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LAHORE: Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman has rejected the budget as a document of IMF slavery. Addressing at a press conference at Mansoorah on Wednesday, he stated that the Finance Minister’s admission of failing to meet the economic targets for the financial year 2023-24 was evidence of the government’s inability to manage the economy effectively.

Referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s statements following the PDM’s rise to power in 2022, he said the current administration, PDM-II, also appeared to be aimlessly floundering without the capability to set the country on the right path.

Shehbaz Sharif had claimed that the PML-N, a component of the former PDM government, had sacrificed its political interests to save the economy and Pakistan.

Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman criticised this, asserting, “You and your allies came to power through rigging and failed to provide relief to the people,” directly addressing the prime minister.

He accused the government of granting the IMF full authority for direct interference in national institutions. If the previous 23 programs had not yielded any positive results, the prospects for the 24th were equally bleak, he added.

He argued that the FBR could not take credit for the increase in tax revenue, which he attributed to heavy taxation on the salaried class and direct taxes in the form of electricity and gas bills, as well as the petroleum levy.

Powerful capitalists and feudal lords, he noted, do not pay taxes, leaving the government to burden the poor. He called for an inclusive tax system and the abolition of the interest-based economy. Linking high electricity costs to unfair agreements with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), he urged a review of these contracts.

He criticised the government’s minimal budget allocation for education, highlighting it as a low priority for the rulers, and called for a focus on IT to boost national income. He credited small farmers for the growth in the agricultural sector but lamented that the government has now begun targeting these growers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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