Budget is driving people to protest and leading the country towards deindustrialization

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Mian Zahid Hussain, the Chairman of the FPCCI Advisory Board and National Business Group Pakistan, the President of the Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, the All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and a former provincial minister, stated on Wednesday that the recent federal budget is causing various sections to protest and it is driving the country towards deindustrialization. He said that the people have lost trust in authorities’ promises, including that of the Finance Minister.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the gap between the people and the government is widening, which needs to be bridged.

Speaking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that continued load shedding of electricity is adding to people’s woes. He said that such a budget has never been presented in the history of the country in which milk for infants has also been made expensive. Thousands of items now face additional customs duty, regulatory duty, withholding tax, and sales tax, which will significantly raise business costs and inflation.

He pointed out that by eliminating the fixed tax regime and imposing sales tax on their local supply, the FBR has left the exporters, who bring $30 billion into the country annually, at their mercy.

In some cases, there has been ruthless discrimination between government employees and the general masses which will never be accepted.

He observed that in these circumstances, the Finance Minister has said that whenever the economy improves, the income tax on the salaried class will be withdrawn, but the increasing government expenditure can never help improve the economy.

According to Mian Zahid Hussain, the people’s income has been steadily declining for several years, while taxes continue to rise, leading to a decrease in their disposable income. As a result, millions of people are struggling to meet their basic needs, including food.

Electricity rates are higher than in developed countries, where labourers earn handsome salaries, he informed.

According to Mian Zahid Hussain, reforming the electricity sector could have saved 1200 billion rupees, and privatizing failing government institutions could have saved another 1200 billion rupees.

Despite the 62 lakh people living in erstwhile FATA and PATA, influential people are importing tax-exempt raw materials and other items in excess quantity resulting in problems for industries located in other parts of the country.

Rupees 500 billion have been set aside for development schemes of assembly members which should not be earmarked given the situation of the country and a budget deficit of 8 thousand billion rupees.

This year, the government will pay interest on loans amounting to 9 thousand billion rupees, while the same interest will increase to 10 thousand billion rupees next year which will be collected from the masses through taxes.

Given these circumstances, it would have been more beneficial if the politicians were denied five hundred billion rupees.

Mian Zahid Hussain also stated that oil marketing companies now enjoy exemptions rather than a zero rating, and the elimination of their tax input adjustment has left them vulnerable to various issues.

There will now be an 18 percent sales tax on homoeopathic and Unani medicines, as well as a 1 percent sales tax on allopathic medicines. There is a need for reforms in the budget, he demanded.

He warned that maintaining the budget in its current form will increase economic instability in the country, making even government supporters unable to defend it.

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