Senate opens debate on budget

Senate opens debate on budget

ISLAMABAD: Debate on the budget 2018-19 began in Senate on Monday.

Opening the debate, Leader of Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman said the country is under heavy burden of loans which are difficult to repay.

She said relaxations have been given to big businesses in the new budget while the relief for poor has been ignored. She said increase in petroleum levy will result in high prices of petroleum products which will put additional strain on the working class. She said her party will continue struggle in the parliament to uphold the supremacy of this august institution and constitution.

Senator Sikandar Mandhro of PPP said the budget statistics do not reflect the actual situation of the economy. He said the budget shows increase in growth rate but fact is that there is no change in the lifestyle of the poor. Terming it anti-poor budget, he said additional burden has been put on poor of the country.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan said opposition should avoid political point scoring as it creates a bad image of the country in the comity of nations. He said biggest indicator of the economy is GDP and its growth reflects strength of economy which has improved from 3.3 percent to 5.8 percent.

Giving details, he said industry improved from 0.7 percent in 2013 to 5.0 percent in 2018, agriculture from 2.68 percent to 3.81 percent and services from 5.13 percent to 6.43 percent during this time period. Similarly, he said meat production increased from 21 percent to over 25 percent, and maize from 4.22 percent to 5.0 percent.

He said Consumer Price Index in 2013 was 8 percent which is now 3.78 percent. Workers remittances that were 13 billion dollars in 2013 have now increased to more than 20 billion dollars. 

The advisor said we still have 17 billion dollars in foreign exchange reserves. He said per capita income in the country has increased from 1333 dollars to 1640 dollars. He said stock market was 19916 points in 2013 and now it is 45877 points despite all the political turmoil. Its market capitalization increased from 51 billion dollars to more than 80 billion dollars. 

Haroon Akhtar Khan said this robustness of the economic indicators present a healthy structure of the economy. The advisor said under China Pakistan Economic Corridor, different projects have been started to improve the energy situation and construction of infrastructure. He said over 12,000 MW of electricity has been added to the national grid and 10,000 more will be added in the coming months.

The House has now been adjourned to meet again on Wednesday at 3 p.m. APP/AFP