Government likely to face tough time in Parliament over mini-budget

Qadeer Tanoli Editor

25th Nov, 2021. 07:08 pm

The National Assembly of Pakistan. Image: File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government could face a hard time in Parliament in getting its mini-budget passed when it is tabled in the assembly next month.

The opposition is already criticising the government over a mini-budget while the ruling party’s allies are also closely monitoring the situation.

Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin has recently revealed that the federal government will table a mini-budget by next week.

Read more: Pakistan, IMF reach staff-level deal

According to the adviser, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) wants Pakistan to impose new taxes worth around Rs700 billion but Pakistani authorities have only managed to collect Rs350 billion.

Chaudhry Manzoor, a senior Pakistan Peoples Party politician, when contacted by Bol News alleged that the government would levy billion of rupees new taxes on the public through its mini-budget to accommodate the IMF condition.

The politic is forecasting that the base price of electricity would be increased by Rs2/unit to fulfil the terms and conditions of IMF. He was of the view that this new financial implication would have drastic effects on the general public.

He raised the question of what would be the impact on the masses when the government would withdraw a subsidy of Rs3.5 billion on different items.

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“The opposition would try to stop the government from presenting the mini-budget but they could get it passed on the basis of the majority and the onus of it would be entirely on their shoulder,” he said.

Moreover, he said PTI’s allies have also started reviewing their stance with the government as it would be difficult for them to contact people in such an atmosphere.

A senior leader of MQM-Pakistan and MNA, Iqbal Muhammad Khan when asked about his party’s stance over the mini-budget said: “Let [details of mini-budget] come out first, and then we would talk on it.”

He also expressed his concern over the rising inflation in the country. He said now there is talk of an increase in petrol price by Rs4 in regular intervals.

“There is no attention on severe issues like inflation and when we interact with the public they ask us why their voice is not being raised over this matter,” said the lawmaker.

Read more: Pakistan’s progress on the rise, says Shaukat Tarin

“The petrol and sugar prices, the price of wheat-flour and that of other essential items have already gone beyond the reach of common citizens. Even the persons who are managing to earn Rs 25,000 have been left with no option but to beg for such necessities. People complain to us that they are not in a position to make both ends meet,” he commented.

Iqbal also admitted that the current inflation level got no match with the past regimes. He asked the government to provide relief to the general public and to take measures to control the prices of essential commodities. He said everyone is talking about issues like Saqib Nisar’s video but there is a need to talk about real issues.

Meanwhile, senior leader of PPP Sherry Rehman in a tweet on Thursday maintained that the government on the directives of IMF is set to increase the prices of petrol, electricity and gas which would be unbearable for the public.

Pakistan, IMF reach staff-level deal

Talks of a mini-budget have been doing rounds ever since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to revive its $6 billion extended fund facility programme to Pakistan after the two sides finally reached a staff-level agreement.

The agreement is subject to approval by the Executive Board, following the implementation of prior actions, notably on fiscal and institutional reforms.

Read more: PAC expresses extreme displeasure over NAB chairman’s absence

Completion of the review would make available SDR750 million (about $1.06 billion), bringing total disbursements under the EFF to about $3 billion and helping unlock significant funding from bilateral and multilateral partners. An additional SDR 1.015 billion (about $1.386 billion) was disbursed in April 2020 to help Pakistan address the economic impact of the COVID-19 shock, the IMF said in a statement.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ernesto Ramirez Rigo held virtual discussions during October 4–November 18, 2021, in the context of the 2021 Article IV consultations and the sixth review of the authorities’ reform programme supported by the IMF’s EFF.