ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that recent revenue generation measures have been announced strictly under various acts of Parliament to bridge Rs 40 billion shortfall in revenue targets.
Giving a policy statement in the National Assembly on Monday, he said these taxes have been imposed on import of luxury and non-essential items, and therefore, would not affect the common man. He said five to 10 percent duty has been imposed on 61 non-essential and luxury items while regulatory duty on 289 items has been enhanced by five percent. One percent additional regulatory duty has been imposed across the board, but here again essential items and those required for developmental purposes have been exempted.
The minister said the main beneficiary of the increased revenue collection would be provinces, which will get 57.5 percent share of the federal divisible pool while the federal government gets only 42.5 percent. He said the federal government provides special one percent share to KP on account of war on terror, grant to Sindh to compensate for abolition of Octroi and special grant to Balochistan.
Dar urged political parties not to politicise economic issues, as increase in revenue generation was necessary to take the country forward. He expressed the confidence that the government would achieve tax collection targets for the current quarter, and already October had witnessed 22 percent growth, and November 28 percent in tax collection.
The government was compelled to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to repay the debt taken by the previous government, he said adding that the substantial IMF repayments were due during the last two years and the government also paid $1billion from its own sources. He said budget deficit, which was 8.8 percent when the PPP government left has come down to 5.3 percent and this year it would reduce to 4.3 percent.
Referring to apprehensions that the taxation measures would lead to price hike, the minister said there was average 12 percent inflation rate up to 2013, which reduced to only 4.3 percent last year, and it is 1.86 percent during five months of the current financial year. He said there has also been 40 percent increase in tax assesses during the tenure of the present government.
Giving details about the objective of the ordinance regarding PIA, he said the ordinance was to turn it into a corporate entity so that it operates in an autonomous manner. He said the ordinance was not aimed at privatising PIA as is being propagated. There is also no change in its balance sheet or nature of service of the employees, he clarified.
He said PIA was suffering huge losses and the government has taken several measures for its restructuring, resultantly, the number of its operation aircraft has increased from 18 in June 2013, to 38 now and two more aircraft would hopefully be added this month. He said PIA has achieved 82 percent punctuality of flights and it is close to world’s top airlines in this regard which is Qatar Airlines with 87 percent and Emirates at 84 percent.
Earlier, Opposition Leader Syed Khurshid Shah, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad, Sahibzada Tariqullah, Sufyan Yusuf, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Shah G Gul Afridi and Ghulam Ahmad Bilour criticised issuance of ordinance close to session of the National Assembly. They demanded its immediate withdrawal and its consideration by the Council of Common Interests. They boycotted remaining proceedings of the House to press for their demands.