‘Unrealistic assumptions’: Tarin expresses doubt on govt’s ability to achieve 5pc growth rate

PTI Senator Shaukat Tarin on Saturday lambasted the incumbent government’s budget for the new fiscal year as “non-serious” and based on “unrealistic assumptions”, casting aspersions on the government’s ability to achieve its targeted growth rate.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had presented the budget for fiscal year 2022-23 (FY23) in the National Assembly on Friday. The growth target for next year was set at 5 per cent in the budget.

Addressing a press conference on the budget in Islamabad, Tarin said: “This is a very non-serious kind of budget which has unrealistic assumptions.”

Explaining his stance, the former finance minister criticised many of the figures and targets given in the budget for various sectors and areas. “They should understand that the numbers don’t lie no matter how much spin-doctoring you do,” he added.

Tarin expressed scepticism about the government’s stated growth target, elaborating that the agricultural and industrial sector targets would not be able to be met due to the recent fuel price increases, rising inflation, and rising electricity prices.

He said the prices of fuel and electricity were expected to be further increased which would take inflation to “25pc to 30pc”. He added the petroleum levy would be further increased, along with the gas development levy.

Tarin said the government had “under and over-budgeted” many figures. “There are many things [in the budget] which they’ve shown less and basically they’ve shown an income [target] which won’t even be collected.”

He said that in his opinion, the income tax should have been increased along with customs duties and GST.

The government has instead proposed giving relief to the salaried class, reducing the number of tax slabs and not taxing individuals earning up to Rs1.2 million a year (Rs100,000 per month).

Tarin alleged that five new programmes he had introduced to the Federal Board of Revenue to increase tax collection were “stopped” by the government and it was “resorting to old tactics” such as fixed income tax.

“They’re working by that same old logic of purana Pakistan (old Pakistan).”

He also said that the government had gone ahead with certain steps and measures that the International Monetary Fund had stopped the PTI government. “I think they’ll have a problem with the IMF now,” Tarin added.

“I think the economy wasn’t their target and it wasn’t their goal to fix it. Their goal was to go and change two or three things to their advantage such as amending the NAB law and election law,” the former finance minister claimed.

He further criticised the budget for “ignoring issues” such as the minimum wage or “doing away with the many pro-poor initiatives” introduced by the PTI.

Tarin said the budget has put 20 million people in danger of going below the poverty line.

He also flayed the government over its negotiations with the IMF, saying it should have agreed to better terms.

He said Pakistan’s economic situation was “very dire” and it needed a new government that had the mandate of the people.

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