Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Labels Federal Budget 2024-25 As ‘Lethal Poison Budget’

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has vehemently criticised the federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25, branding it as a “lethal poison budget.” According to a statement from the PTI spokesperson, the budget presented by the federal government is not only detrimental to the economic well-being of the public but also poses a significant threat to the daily lives of ordinary citizens.

The PTI spokesperson claimed that the recent budget is essentially dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and lacks the government’s input. The economic growth target of 3.6% for the next fiscal year is deemed unrealistic by the PTI, as the World Bank projects a growth rate of no more than 2.4%. Furthermore, the 12% inflation rate target is described as entirely unachievable given the current budget framework.

The spokesperson warned of an impending surge in inflation due to a significant increase in taxes imposed on the public. On the directive of the IMF, the tax target has been raised by 48% to PKR 12,970 billion, an action the PTI described as extremely oppressive. Non-tax revenue, which significantly contributes to inflation, has been increased to PKR 3,587 billion.

The budget deficit is projected to reach 6.9% of GDP, which the PTI claims will be at a historic high. The removal of tax exemptions for exporters is expected to severely impact national exports. Additionally, the increase in taxes on the real estate sector is predicted to create fear in the market and encourage cash transactions.

After provincial payments, the federal government’s revenue will stand at PKR 9,119 billion, which PTI asserts is insufficient to cover the interest payments amounting to PKR 9,775 billion. For the first time, the pension bill has been increased from PKR 839 billion to PKR 1,014 billion. The PTI also criticised the increase in tax rates from 35% to 45% and changes in tax slabs, claiming it chokes the salaried class.

The real estate sector will face a new 15% tax, with a 45% tax for non-filers, an unprecedented move according to PTI. Introducing a late filer category alongside non-tax filer and tax filer categories is considered another misguided decision by the government.

Surprisingly, PKR 593 billion has been allocated to the Benazir Income Support Program, benefiting only 9.3 to 10 million families. The PTI spokesperson also highlighted the discrepancy between Shehbaz Sharif’s claim of a PKR 1,800 billion agriculture package and the actual allocation of only PKR 5 billion, calling it a joke.

Given the 12% inflation rate, the proposal to increase government employees’ salaries by 22-25% is termed incomprehensible by PTI. Additionally, the increase in the petroleum levy by PKR 80 is seen as another attempt to burden the public further. The PTI concluded that the federal budget for 2024-25 is a collection of contradictions and is counterproductive to public welfare, employment, and economic growth.

 

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