KARACHI: The federal budget 2024-25 has drawn sharp criticism from the business community, that termed it an ‘IMF-friendly’ and not a business-unfriendly budget.

Speaking at a press conference after the federal finance minister’s budget 2024-25 at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Wednesday, Zubair Motiwala, Chairman of the BMG Group, expressed grave concerns over the proposed 38% increase in the FBR’s revenue target to a staggering Rs. 12 trillion.

“The imposition of over Rs. 3500 billion new taxes will significantly increase industrial costs, inevitably leading to the harassment from the FBR as they struggle to meet their unrealistic collection targets,” Motiwala cautioned.

While the finance minister signalled intent to rationalise power tariffs, the absence of measures to address soaring gas prices has emerged as another source of concern for the industry, Motiwala said, bluntly labelling the budget as “trader unfriendly.”

Additionally, the business leader criticised the government’s decision to allocate Rs. 79 billion to the IT sector instead of improving the tax structure to facilitate the inflow of foreign exchange.

In a move that could potentially hamper exports, the budget has included the export sector in the normal tax regime, departing from the previous final tax regime. “Had the government supported export-oriented sectors, the export target for 2024-25 could have been surpassed with ease under governmental support,” Motiwala asserted.

The dissenting voices echoed throughout the business community, with Iftikhar Ahmad Sheikh, KCCI, declaring the budget “tough and business unfriendly.”

Former KCCI president Haroon Farooqui went a step further, branding it a “business killer budget” that serves the interests of the IMF rather than the general public.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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