Pakistan Peoples Party Official

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Press Conference on Budget

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Islamabad May 23, 2017:  The Pakistan People’s Party today called for a 25 % increase in pay and pension, minimum wages of Rs 18,000 pm and a separate fund for social protection of vulnerable groups and including trans genders in the poverty alleviation flagship BISP.

The call was made today at a press conference in Islamabad by Senator Salim Mandviwalla former Finance Minister and Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue while unveiling the Party’s shadow budget ahead of the national budget due on May 27. Senator Usman Saifullah Khan, former MNA CH Manzoor, former Punjab Finance Minister Tanvir Kaira and Secretary General PPPP Senator Farhatullah Babar and media coordinator Nazir Dhoki were also present in the press conference.

Mandviwallah, who is also the convener of the Manifesto Committee said that President PPP Parliamentarians Mr. Asif Zardari had already directed that adequate poverty alleviation measures be spelt out in the manifesto ahead of the 2018 general elections.

At 5.8 trillion the shadow budget envisages 825 billion rupees in revenue and 4 million new tax filers. It also calls for restructuring of FBR to raise revenues and diverting resources to enhance social and food security, Mandviwalla said.

An additional allocation of 47 billion per year to health is envisaged to bridge the yawning gap in this sector.

A pilot project of health insurance will be introduced in the first stage in Islamabad to serve as model for the provinces. Provinces will be persuaded to raise education spending to achieve the target of 5% of GDP in the next five years.

Sales tax on goods and services and provincial excise will be collected by Provincial Board of Revenue. Federal excise will also be collected by the provincial Board of Revenue and transferred to federal government on agreed terms Mandviwalla said explaining salient features of the shadow budget.

Legislation will be enacted for mandatory sharing of information by all federal and provincial tax agencies, NADRA and law enforcement agencies to document economy and plug holes in tax recovery, he said.

“Rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer is a bane of our society” he said adding that spending which benefitted only the rich will be stopped and diverted to the benefit of the poorest of poor. Withdrawal of 5% federal excise duty on crude petroleum is also envisaged to bring down the cost of transportation for the poor .

The Party vowed to build on priority western route agreed to in the May 2015 APC in the PM house but dumped by the government. Special training programs will be devised to initiate businessmen in trading with China.

Dilating on it further Mandviwalla said that CPEC was formally launched during the twilight weeks of the PPP government when the Gawadur Port project was transferred from Singapore to China in February 2013..

To heal the wounds of most underdeveloped and militancy infested areas of Balochistan, KPK and tribal areas the centre piece of CPEC was the western route of the Corridor, he said.

Zardari has been deeply concerned over dumping of the western route, insensitivity to the hopes and aspirations of smaller provinces and lack of transparency in the CPEC project.

The Prime Minister lectured some 1500 OBOR delegates in Beijing on “transcending differences and resolving conflicts through dialogue to leave behind a legacy of peace”. Just when Nawaz Sharif was making right noises in Beijing the Minister for Planning was dismissing indignantly as “factually incorrect” concerns raised in the media back home, Mandviwalla said.

Mandvialla deplored that the National Industrial Policy 2011 aimed at turning Pakistan into “a factory for the world rather than a shop” was not implemented by the government.

“Nawaz Sharif is a businessman and he ought to know that continuity of economic policies must not become a casualty of politics” he said and vowed to revive the 2011 industrial policy.

To break the vicious cycle of taking loans for repayment of old loans the PPP proposed involving private sector in infrastructural development and a massive reduction in debt-financed investment in infrastructure by the federal government.

Mandviwalla said that the Nawaz government had further pushed the nation into the bottomless pit of debt leaving little for social safety and human development.

The overall debt had increased from 9.5 trillion in 2013 to 12.7 trillion rupees in 2016 while external debt rose from 61 billion dollars to 73 billion dollars during the same period. Net public debt exceeded 18.28 trillion rupees – a whooping increase of 35 % during the PML-N government, he said.

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