LAHORE: Following the announcement of the budget for the fiscal year 2019-20, a survey conducted by Pakistan Today has revealed the public’s sentiments regarding the onslaught of heavy taxes along with rising inflation.
Speaking to a government servant in Grade 17, Agha Ghulam Hussain lamented that the increase in salaries means nothing as it would get deducted in taxes anyway. “I am amazed at the cunning minister’s presentation who announced an increase in salaries while giving a long list of taxes that would bring our salaries back to where they were or even lower. The minister asked us to hope that the difficulties arising out of budgetary measures, including inflation, would subside over six months or a year. Did he think how people would survive in this time? Did he realise that people are committing suicide due to inflation?” he said.
Another government servant in Grade 14 said, “This increase barely means anything to us as we are dealing with huge price hikes. I think all the government’s schemes would fail because corruption will increase at all levels due to inflation. We will come out to protest for our right as we have to run our families and house”.
Tahira Khalid, a housewife commented by saying, “This government’s level can be judged by the fact that they did not have a full-time finance minister to present PTI’s first federal budget. This awful budget is not less than stabbing the common man. It sounded good when the budget offered to help the poor, increased allocations for social safety nets, social protection programmes, interest-free loans, prime minister’s initiatives for youth, Balochistan and erstwhile FATA, etc. but these are all empty promises that have no place in the given budget.”
A teacher of economics in a local university, Kamran Malik said, “I was very much with PTI but not anymore. Idealistic inflation, government revenue, and expenditure targets eventually give rise to mini-budgets and that is why PTI has given two mini-budgets already. They need a proper financial advisor or minister to run these matters, running a country is not a piece of cake”.
Another businessman Syed Mukhtar said, “The government has never been able to increase tax revenues by more than 21 per cent in any fiscal year but this time it is intending for more than a 35 per cent increase in tax revenues and I must say that this revenue will not be generated from direct taxes or from the corrupt. I can assure you that all this will be generated from the common man’s pocket who is already suffering and dying because of unbearable inflation”.
The president and general secretary of APCA while reacting on the new budget said, “We reject this budget. There are only taxes in the new budget. No relief is given to a layman by the government. APCA will stage the nationwide protest for the rights of government servants”.
Further, in a protest carried out by Awami Mazhmat here on Wednesday, it was reiterated that the new economic pundits of Pakistan, while presenting the fiscal budget for 2019-20, have miserably failed to evolve a strategy that would turn around the decelerating growth process.
Awami Mazahmat does not consider the budgetary measures to be favourable to the ordinary folks if the items of daily and common use like food and fuel are taxed more heavily while there is no scope to receive additional incomes to sustain the sane standard of living, ” the Awami Mazahmat statement said.
In the present circumstances, where the outgoing budget indicates dwindling resource mobilisation, it is hardly expected that the new fiscal measures will be of any help to match the increasing expenditures, given the present level of debt servicing and defence spending.