‘Revolutionary steps needed in new budget’ | Pakistan Today

‘Revolutionary steps needed in new budget’

KARACHI – Prominent economist Dr Shahid Hasan Siddiqui has said that only revolutionary steps can restore the economy of the country and if not taken in the forthcoming budget, any betterment in economy should not be expected.
He said this while speaking at a meeting of the Hamdard Shura themed ‘National Budget 2011-2012: Apprehensions, Expectations and Difficulties’ held at a local hotel recently. The session was presided over by former Federal Shariat Court chief justice Haziquel Khairi, where Hamdard Foundation Pakistan President Sadia Rashid was also present.
Suggesting a cut of 40 percent in government expenditures, Siddiqui said that all incomes, including agricultural, of more than Rs 400,000 annually should be taxed; rate of general sales tax (GST) fixed at 5 percent; all surcharges abolished; four percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) allotted to education; three percent of GDP for health; and the minimum salary should be fixed at Rs 11,000.
“All banks should be bound to share their profits with their depositors, while the members of parliament, civil and military bureaucracy restricted to keep their accounts in local banks only and not in banks of foreign countries. Moreover, attractive profit rates on deposits should be offered to overseas Pakistanis for keeping their foreign currency in the Pakistani banks,” he added.
Siddiqui said that corruption cases having documentary proofs should be made test cases and targets to curb corruption.
Speaking on the occasion, Small and Medium Enterprises Association (SMEA) President Zafar Iqbal said government officials’ discreet powers and facilities of free petrol and electricity should be withdrawn in the next budget to reduce government expenditures while the scope of income tax enhanced by imposing taxes on agriculture.
He added that persons and institutions with annual income of up to Rs 600,000 income should be exempted from income tax but withholding taxes should be abolished.
To promote fisheries and its export more incentives and facilities should be provided, Iqbal said, adding that good governance and restoration of law and order, with honest and able officials appointed on key post would control corruption.
The SMEA president said that small and medium size enterprises are the engine of economy because they require less foreign exchange, contribute 38 percent to the GDP, involve 80 percent labour and very few are defaulters. Especially for this sector, labour laws should be softened; one window operation allowed; and inspections and audits by certain official agencies exempted, he added.
Iqbal was of the view that difficulties should be removed in bringing foreign exchange into Pakistan and for promoting small- and medium-sized enterprises, industrial parks equipped with all basic civic facilities like electricity, water, gas, phone and internet facilities be established in major cities of Pakistan.
The withholding tax on encashment of cheques up to Rs 100,000 should be abolished, said Iqbal, adding that forms of S&MSE should be printed in Urdu and better laws made in connection with bankruptcy to save public money.
IBA Karachi Business Administration Associate Dean Prof Dr Mohammad Nishat, MA Sabzwari, Prof Dr Nasim A Khan, Mohammed Said Siddiqui, Dr Rizwana Ansari, Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan, Dr Mirza Arshad Ali Beg, Engineer Anwarul Haq Siddiqui, Commodore (r) Sadeed Anwar Malik and Dr Mohammed Abubakar Sheikh also spoke on the occasion.

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