National Assembly passes Finance Bill 2019

National Assembly passes Finance Bill 2019

The National Assembly today passed the Finance Bill 2019, giving legal effect to the budgetary proposals for the next fiscal year.

The Finance Bill was moved by Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Hammad Azhar.

Earlier, responding to points of opposition members, Minister of State for Finance Hammad Azhar said the present government is taking the economy towards stability. 

He said previous governments are responsible for the current economic situation of the country.

Hammad Azhar said the PML-N government put the economic stability of the country at stake during its last two years in power.

He pointed out that Foreign Exchange Reserves declined by ten billion dollars in the last one and half year tenure of PML-N. He said the current account deficit also soared to 20 billion dollars during their tenure.

He said the present government has reduced the current account deficit by 20 percent and trade deficit by 4 billion dollars. 

He said the previous government left behind the circular debt of 1140 billion rupees while we have enhanced the revenue of both power and gas sectors by launching successful drive against their pilferage.

Hammad Azhar said tax to GDP ratio witnessed a growth of two percent over the last ten years.

He said PTI government will enhance the tax to GDP ratio by four percent in the next three years. 

He said we have also given a five year economic plan in the budget and we will also reduce debt to GDP ratio.

The Minister of State rejected the impression that the government has imposed the taxes on essential commodities including meat, ghee, vegetables and fruits.

He said we have only imposed tax on the exotic vegetables and fruits.  He also clarified that the inflation rate in currently 9 percent which was 24 percent in the era of PPP.

He said no new tax has been imposed on laptops while those on mobiles have been cut substantially.

The Minister of State said a new mechanism will be evolved to ensure timely refunds to the exporters which will help address their liquidity issue.

Hammad Azhar said it is for the first time that the House held threadbare discussion on the finance bill.

He said 250 members participated in the general discussion on the budget, which reflects the democratic posture of the PTI government and impartiality of the Speaker.

The total outlay of the federal budget 2019-20 is 7,022 billion rupees, containing relief for the poor and measures for economic stabilization and fiscal discipline. The FBR tax collection target has been set at 5.5 trillion rupees.

The new budget envisages total development outlay of 1,863 billion rupees. The size of federal Public Sector Development Program has been set at 951 billion rupees. Besides, an amount of 912 billion rupees has been allocated for provincial Annual Development Plans.

The budget envisages allocation of 63.5 billion rupees for special areas including merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

The budget also contains relief for the salaried class and pensioners. Ten percent ad hoc relief has been given to government employees from scales one to sixteen. Five per cent increase has been given to the employees of 17 to 20 grades. The pensioners have been given ten percent raise.

The budget also includes a new ration card scheme for one million people to provide nutritious food to children and pregnant women. Five hundred Kifalat Marakiz will be set up and disabled persons will be provided with assistive aids. Ehsaas homes will be constructed for elderly people.

The quarterly stipend of 5,000 for BISP has also been increased to 5500 rupees.

As per the new budget, Sehat Sahulat Cards will be provided to 3.2 million people in 42 districts, while in the second phase 15 million people will be provided with these cards across the country including the tribal districts and Tharparkar.

93 billion rupees have been allocated for education, nutrition, health and clean drinking water.

200 billion rupees have been earmarked for rail and roads.  55 billion rupees have been earmarked for Dasu Hydropower project, twenty billion rupees for the land acquisition of Diamer Bhasha Dam and fifteen billion rupees for Mohmand Hydro power project.

An amount of over 516 million rupees has been allocated for digitization of production and transmission infrastructure of Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan with thrust on reaching out to far-flung areas of the country. The services of Radio Pakistan will be expanded to the uncovered areas.