As the government starts preparing the budget for the next fiscal year, it has come under pressure from parliamentarians to announce relief measures for promotion of agriculture, trade and business activities in the country, it has been learnt.
An informed source said some of the parliamentarians suggested that the government made the next fiscal year’s budget an election year budget and provided incentives to the people and businesses even if the controversy emanating from Panama Leaks subsided. “These lawmakers are of the opinion that any further fiscal tightening and broadening of taxation and further energy reforms can draw public ire,” he added.
The source further said that the government was taking Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentarians into confidence on the next budget, with an aim to strengthen the party before the second wave of Panama Leaks hits the world.
PML-N parliamentarians from rural areas have conveyed to the leadership that they can only win a re-election if steps are taken for the revival of agriculture in the next fiscal year. Nearly a similar argument has been raised by PML-N MNAs from urban centres.
The MNAs from rural areas want the government to offer some permanent solution to bring the hike in prices of agriculture inputs under control and to stabilise commodity prices since the farming community is under pressure for the past three fiscal years due to reduction in prices of wheat, rice, cotton and other minor crops.
The parliamentarians want the government to enhance agriculture exports to Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Middle East and demand easy loans, subsidised inputs, improvement in domestic research and extension services and procurement through government agencies in case of surplus for farmers.
Interestingly, many of the parliamentarians have pointed out that incentives should be real and tangible and not like the ones announced under the agriculture package by the prime minister before the local bodies’ elections.
At the same time, the parliamentarians from urban areas want the government to take measures for the revival of trade and business activities in cities, demanding abolition of the withholding tax on cash withdrawals that has nearly alienated the business community from the ruling PML-N.