Lahore: All Pakistan Business Forum president Ibrahim Qureshi has said that Pakistan needs 2.5 million jobs annually but the government has taken concrete measures neither in federal nor in Punjab budgets for job creations for the unemployed youth.
Commenting on the 2017-18 federal and Punjab budgets, he termed it a bubble budget, apparently feeling good but does not contain substance.
He condemned the economic manager’s calculator approach in finalizing the budget, which focused more on revenue collection and less on the fulfillment of its major objective of giving a long-term direction to the economy. This budget shows the failure of the Federal Board of Revenue as the reduction of taxpayers in active taxpayers list clearly indicates the failure of the govt, he added. Terming the federal budget as a number game with no incentives for industry and more privileges for few sectors, he said that government is non-serious to explore new venues for revenue generation and no efforts had been taken to plug revenue leakages amounting in billions. He criticized the Federal Board of Revenue for failing in broadening of tax base. The government instead of generating revenue from direct taxes showed its intention to collect revenue through withholding tax. Moreover, the government after increasing the tax rate for non-filers had admitted its failure to implement the concept of filer and non-filer introduced in the last budget. He also opposed the Punjab government for slapping duty on internet services. He said internet had now become a necessity for every sector of the economy, whether its agriculture, healthcare, education or SMEs. He said that small size businesses have also a monthly bill of more than Rs1,500. Making broadband expensive will have a very negative impact on the overall economy, as taxing broadband is like raising petrol prices, which affects every sector of the economy, he added. Ibrahim Qureshi said that like the previous governments, this one too has refrained from bringing big fishes into the tax net or even taking measures to prevent major tax evasions. The government attempted to squeeze the neck of old taxpayers instead of taking efforts to bring new taxpayers into tax net. He blasted the authorities for not keeping its focus on resolving the energy crisis and allocating sufficient funds for the construction of big reservoirs including Kalabagh Dam in budget. He said that policymakers would have to address the concerns of the public since they suffer the most as a result of the power crisis. Ibrahim Qureshi questioned the claims of the government regarding reduction in unemployment, improvement in per capita income and improved energy situation.
The government is opening up the Pakistan economy to imports. While lower duty on raw materials and inputs is needed, but duty free imports of machinery will result in huge spending of scarce foreign exchange and jobs creations abroad, and no jobs for Pakistanis.
Ibrahim Qureshi regretted that no corrective action has been announced in the budget to increase direct taxation and more emphasis has been laid on indirect taxation.