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Azhar defends new taxes in mini-budget, slams previous govts

12 Jan, 2022
Azhar was responding to the opposition’s concerns over the mini-budget and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 during the NA session on Wednesday. Photo: twitter.com/@NAofPakistan
Azhar was responding to the opposition’s concerns over the mini-budget and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 during the NA session on Wednesday. Photo: twitter.com/@NAofPakistan

Energy Minister Hammad Azhar on Wednesday said that all taxes under the proposed Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021 – also known as the mini-budget – were adjustable and would not get to the consumer, amid serious concerns of the opposition leaders on the legislation.

“The Federal Board of Revenue will refund these taxes and this is being done to document the economy,” he said in his speech at the NA session, which was presided over by Speaker Asad Qaiser.

Azhar was responding to the opposition’s concerns over the mini-budget and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021.

Earlier, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari slammed the government for “hefty taxes” and risked CPEC under the SBP tweak bill.

Hammad alleged that the PPP leader spoke about the taxes just because someone gave him the handout without prior information.

“Rs200 billion worth of taxes -- out of the total Rs300 billion -- are adjustable taxes,” he said, “This is the reason why we are considering it fiscally neutral, which means it will not increase the amount of tax but it will be documented.”

The energy minister alleged that “many lobbies” were against such documentation of taxes.

Azhar said: “Taxes that are not adjustable are being imposed on luxury items, expensive cars and expensive foods… such luxuries are borne by rich people and they need to pay more taxes.”

The energy minister further blamed the previous governments of PML-N and PPP for the country’s issues, adding that expensive agreements and “wrong decisions” led the country to a “difficult situation.”

On opposition’s concerns over not taking their suggestions on the economy, he said the country’s economic growth could have not been on 4-5% if they had taken opposition's advice. “We achieved this [growth and world praise] by rejecting their [opposition] suggestions on economic policy and saving the economy from going bankrupt. Similarly, we rejected their prescriptions and their strategies on Covid.”

Azhar claimed that the government took a “scientific path and data-driven path” to tackle the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

He also claimed that the LNG import had no link with the gas crisis and slammed the opposition for doing “expensive deals” in the past.

The minister said that the finance minister has received the NA and Senate committees suggestions on the mini-budget and the latter was considering those.

In his speech, Azhar had complained that the opposition leaders left the house during his speech.