Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has said that the budget for FY22-23 required ‘tough decisions’ which are ultimately aimed at bringing the masses relief, as well as achieving fiscal consolidation. He added that the country was going through a ‘difficult phase’ due to the ‘damage done by Imran Khan’.
Miftah Ismail made these remarks a day after he presented the Annual Budget for FY22-23 in the National Assembly, at a post-budget press conference. He was joined by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha.
The new budget lowered the tax burden of the salaried class, while increasing the pay of governmental officials by 15% on an ad hoc basis.
“Growth and inflation are our targets, but our first target is fiscal consolidation, to move the country away from the point where Imran Khan left it at,” Ismail said, adding that the government was trying to reduce the deficit by increasing taxes on Pakistani citizens who possess foreign assets along with new taxes on property.
He said that the country was going through an unprecedented period, and stated that he had never seen a more ‘difficult’ time in the past 30 years. “On one hand the international environment is very challenging and [on the other] the government or administration has worsened [the situation] and nothing was done to resolve issues,” he said.
Miftah said that despite having the most efficient units of power generation in the world, the production of electricity still incurred a cost. He said that the energy crisis, if not resolved, could result in a loss of ‘Rs 1,100-1,600 billion’ which would sink the ‘company’.
“It is unfortunate that we have to approach other countries for packages, loans or deposits,” he lamented. “Pakistan is an honourable country and a nuclear power. We have to set our economy right.”
Talking about the power subsidies Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson and former prime minister gave were akin to Khan handing out a cheque, without having money in his bank.
He said while they had targets of growth and inflation, the government’s first priority is fiscal consolidation and reducing the burden on the masses.