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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Pak promises relief in new budget

By Iqbal Hussain Khan Yousafzai – Reporting from Islamabad

Islamabad, 06 June, ( Pakistan Monday announced 1.5 trillion federal budget for the next financial year that provides the highest ever allocation for development to fight poverty and includes a number of relief for the salaried and the common man.

Presenting the annual budget in the National Assembly this evening, Minister of State for Finance Umar Ayub Khan said special focus of the budget is to improve socio-economic conditions of the common man by generating more job opportunities and provision of improved social services.

The Minister of State for Finance announced a number measures to provide relief to the government servents, private sectors workers, pensioners, and for the common man. He announced fifteen percent dearness allowance for all government employees from 1st of next month.

The government pensioners who retired before 1st of May, 1977 would get twenty percent increase in their pension while those retired after 1977 would get 15 percent increase in their pension. He hoped that this would provide relief to the senior citizens.
Minimum wages for workers in the private sector are being enhanced from three thousand to four thousand rupees per month.

Overtime of Drivers and Dispatch Riders as well as conveyance charges of non-gazetted employees from Grade 1 to 16 are being increased by 50 percent. Those getting pension under employees old age benefit Act 1976 would get an increase of three hundred rupees in their pension.

Marriage grant from workers welfare funds is being increased from thirty thousand to fifty thousand for marriage of each daughter of worker. Workers death grant has been increased from one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand rupees. The scholarship for workers children has been enhanced from eight hundred to one thousand rupees.

In order to provide relief to the industrial workers, it has been decided to double their shares in the profit. They would now get twelve thousand rupees.

Mr. Omer Ayub said the government has taken initiative to improve emoluments of teachers to secure a respectable place for them in the society. To begin with it has been decided to grant teaching allowance of five hundred, seven hundred and one thousand rupees per month according to their qualifications.

He announced attractive packages for important posts to improve performance of Pakistan Railways.

Under the instruction of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz a comprehensive relief package is also being given to the heirs of the government employees who die during their service.

The lump sum grant is being fixed from two hundred thousand to one million rupees according to their grades while pension of the heirs has also been increased.

Heirs would also be allowed to retain official accommodation for three to five years. One of the heir of employee up to grade 15 would also be given two year contract employment while one child would get free education upto eighteen years of age.

The widow would get free medical treatment for life from government hospitals.

Two percent quota in allotment of government plots is being fixed for heirs of those who die during service. Employees of Law Enforcement Agencies martyred during performance of their duties would get a package according to their service and sacrifice.

The Minister of State announced 0.5 to 1.5 percent increase in the rate of the profit for all saving schemes and prize bonds as means to increase the income of small investors.

He said a revolutionary tax system is also being introduced to provide relief to the salaried classes. The tax exemption limit is being enhanced from one hundred thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand rupees.

The tax rate which was previously 3.2 to 30 percent has been reduced to 0.25 to 20 percent. This would provide additional relief to a large number of government employees.

With a view to provide relief to senior citizens of age of sixty and above, their income upto four hundred thousand rupees per annum is being exempted from tax.

The Minister announced reduction in prices of all pulses from tomorrow at all the outlets of the utility stores corporations. The new rates would be gram pulses thirty rupees per kilo, Masoor thirty-one, Moong 53 and Maash 58 rupee per kilo.

The government would also provide import subsidy to bring down the prices of pulses.

Mr. Omer Ayub said the government has decided to provide subsidy on sugar to overcome the crisis generated by the increase in the prices of sugar in the international market. The government has imported seven hundred thousand ton while the private sector has imported five hundred thousand ton sugar as a result of which its prices has started coming down.

He said the government has decided to open at least one utility store outlet in each union council for the benefit of the people. The Utility Stores Corporation would also introduce mobile units and franchise system at the lower level to counter designs of profiteers and hoarders.

The Minister said the government is introducing a system that would ensure stabilization of prices of eatables. He assured the House that like wheat flower prices of other food items would also stabilize soon.

He cautioned that the government would deal sternly with hoarders and profiteers. Necessary executive measures are being taken for effective implementation of price mechanism law besides appointment of price Magistrate in every district.

Emphasizing the role of supply in price stabilization he announced establishment of a model vegetable market in Islamabad. Later similar model markets would also be established in other cities.

The Minister of State announced duty free import of tractors to ensure its prompt availability to the farmers.

He said agricultural loans have reached hundred and thirty billion rupees and step are being taken to increase them further.

A one billion rupees programme is being launched for revival of the poultry industry hit by bird flu.

He said the government would invest about eight billion rupees to increase the income of farmers. Under the package, programmes for increase in productivity and food security would be initiated in all the four provinces, Azad Kashmir, Northern areas and FATA.

Dairy production is being exempted from sale tax while there would no custom duty and sales tax on dairy and live stock equipment. Duty on packaging material of dairy products is being reduced to five percent.

Mr. Omer Ayub announced introduction of technology for economical use of water at a cost of one billion rupees.

Sales Tax exemption available to Computer Hardware is being withdrawn while custom duty on import of computer hardware is being abolished.

National Highway Authority would get 25 billion rupees during next year for construction of highways to link Gawader with Highway network, Lowari tunnel and Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway.

The outlay of the new budget is nineteen point seven percent higher than the revised estimates of the outgoing year.

Total receipts for the next financial year have been estimated at one thousand one hundred billion rupees. These include 860 billion rupees from internal and 239 billion rupees from external resources. Overall expenditure has been estimated at one thousand three hundred fifteen billion rupees.

Eight hundred and eighty billion rupees have been allocated for current expenditures. Development expenditure would be 435 billion rupees including fifty billion rupees for reconstruction of earthquake affected areas.

Total transfers to provinces during the next year would be about four hundred and thirty-seven billion rupees, about ninety-four billion more than the outgoing year. Net share of provinces in the federal revenue would be Punjab 189 billion, Sindh 120 billion, NWFP over 44 and Balochistan over 24 billion rupees.

Defence will get two hundred fifty billion rupees twenty seven billion more than education last year - one hundred and eighty-seven, health - four hundred and seventy-two and housing and works - one hundred and four billion rupees.

The Minister of State for Finance said the Federal Government would be providing relief and subsidies worth 109 billion rupees during the next year. These include pay and pension relief ten billion, safety net of Baitul Maal five billion, power 59 billion, fuel ten billion, food items of sugar, wheat and pulses 12 billion and fertilizer 13 billion rupees.

720 million rupees have been allocated in the new budget to stabilize the cement prices.

Under the PSDP, the federal government will spend three hundred twenty billion rupees which will create four lakh new jobs provincial governments will spend one hundred and fifteen billion rupees on their development programmes which is 69% higher than the current year.

To alleviate poverty and generate employment, ten billion rupees additional amount for Khushal Pakistan Fund has been allocated apart from proposed twenty-four point four billion rupees original fund.

Some new important development programmes will be launched during the next financial year at a cost of one hundred and twelve billion rupees.

- Asian Tribune -

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