Federal budget doesn’t bring smile on most faces; mini budget shortly

KARACHI: The budget comes sans any incentive to spur industrial growth, which is going south fast. Government should have restored the widely demanded ‘no tax no refund regime.

Perhaps, IMF didn’t approve of it.

A directionless budget, since it is not a revenue oriented budget, and yet there is no significant incentive or support for anyone. The military gets around 11 percent raise though. No increase in salaries or pensions, and no income tax relief for salaried class.

It seems this finance bill would likely be followed by one or two supplementary finance bills during the fiscal year. A mini budget may be expected after first quarter.

It is shocking for the industrial sector that the proposal of restoring ‘no tax no refund’ mechanism was not announced. It is a big disappointment for the export oriented industry, as exporters’ cash lines have dried up and they shouldn’t pay 17 percent sales tax and then wait months for the refund.

Turnover tax is reduced to 0.5 percent from 1.5 percent.

Speaking of Federal Board of Revenue’s revenue collection target of Rs3.9 trillion, is a very ambitious target given the economic situation of the country amid global pandemic.

Decision of increasing the exemption limit for submitting CNIC to Rs100,000 worth of purchases against the existing value of Rs50,000 is a good thing at this point of time.

Reduced duties and taxes on raw material import could facilitate import substitution, but the industry is faced with multiple problems including liquidity crunch, high cost of doing business, suppressed demand etc.

It is not a relief budget, let alone the stimulus. It is true that no new taxes have been imposed, but some of the existing taxes have been increased and some are decreased offsetting the impact.
Smoking is getting dearer as federal excise duty is increased on cigarettes and vaporizers.

Government could consider reduced taxes and provide relief on utilities and other levies.

Construction sector is further incentivised, which is a good thing, because several allied industries rely on construction. However, ignoring forex earners is not prudent, especially at a time workers’ remittances are declining and would shrink further going forward. Thousands of overseas workers are already back home.

The entire world is going through a recession and Pakistan is no exception. Government should have given a thought to this reality.

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