Is the Federal Budget 2021-22 really public-friendly?
Most of the economists have termed the Federal Budget 2021-22 a public-friendly budget because of its focus on facilitating commoners in the form of removal of different kinds of taxes and duties on the commodities used by them.
Minimum wage has been increased by more than 20 percent, while salaries of government employees have been boosted by 10 percent. However, some experts as well as the opposition leaders have termed this increment insufficient viewing the inflation. The opposition leaders suggested that the minimum wage should have been Rs25,000 instead of Rs20,000, while the increment should have been 30 percent in salaries.
Budget for the development sector has been beefed up by over 40 percent, whereas taxes and duties have been abridged on most of the business categories especially manufacturing and financing services. Small medium enterprises have specially been given priority in providing relief. The budget, as was said by Prime Minister Imran Khan before its presentation, has something for everyone.
Different kinds of interest-free and low interest loans have also been announced for middle and lower-middle class people and farmers.
The exemption of different kinds of taxes and duties on less than 850 cc cars will encourage sale and production of automobiles in the country. Perks and benefits for the IT sector are also laudable. Incentives have been announced for locally manufactured cell phone sets, which will cut phone prices.
One of the concerns that experts have shown is that a good chunk of the budget announced for different sectors specially development sector is not spent despite allocation every year. Concerns have also been shown about how the government would generate its revenue as it has set Rs5.8 trillion tax target, while reducing so much in taxes. The government has claimed to meet the target through widening income tax net.
The opposition has announced to give a tough time to the government in approving the budget.
An economic expert Muzammil Aslam said that the budget contained resolution of issues faced by common men including measures to ramp up local production and removal of withholding taxes.
“If someone asks me to define the budget in one word then it is a ‘Loot Sale’ for the masses.
Increase in the local production will proportionally boost employment in the country and these local products will cost less in comparison with the products imported from abroad,” he said.
Muzammil Aslam said that withdrawal of withholding tax on mobile phone top ups and withdrawal of money from bank as well as many other such taxes which were directly affecting people will benefit middle-class people.
Economist Dr Aliya Hashmi said it was a balanced budget as the government had provided incentives for growth in agriculture, exports and IT sectors. “Another element highlighted in the current budget is social protection as the government has allocated a significant amount for the schemes under Ehsaas programme,” she said.
Former Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tauseef Zaman said the budget presented by the government was completely different from the conventional budgets presented by the previous governments.
President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mian Tariq Misbah said exceptions granted to the pharmaceutical industry and the Information and Technology sector was a positive move.
Tariq Misbah said the package announced for farmers is a welcome change. He also lauded the housing scheme for low-income earners, saying that people would benefit from it.
Commenting on the budget, Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala said the budget had given a direction to industries while special emphasis had been laid on the exports sector as well as the local industry.
President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries Shariq Vohra commended the PTI-led government for reducing the withholding tax by 40% and said the turnover tax had also been reduced by 0.25%.