MINISTER for Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail has not only successfully preserved the basic characteristics of the Federal Budget for the year 2018-19 but also has come out with more incentives and relief to different segments of the society and spheres of life. Contrary to speculations that the government might succumb to pressure and change the basic structure of the budget during winding up debate on the new budget, the Minister live up to the commitment of the PML (N) to provide maximum relief to masses.
Despite financial constraints and economic compulsions, the government presented a relief-oriented budget that has been hailed by all. However, strangely enough, the opposition-dominated Senate made some of the queer recommendations including proposal to deny benefit of exemption from income tax to lower segments of the society and hundred percent increase in rate of tax for income beyond 1.2 million. Apparently, these recommendations were politically motivated to damage the ruling party ahead of general election but the Finance Minister reacted wisely and did not fall into the trap. Instead, the government has announced another relief for the low paid employees by raising the rate of conveyance allowance from grade-1 to 16 by fifty percent. Similarly, the decision to increase the limit for purchase of property by non-filers from four to five million rupees is a positive development but we still believe that this condition would encourage people to under-declare the property value in collusion with revenue officials and ultimately the government would be loser. The Finance Minister also announced that the farmers who will pay their outstanding bills in the first quarter of next fiscal year will be given exemption of 20 percent in the bills and this will benefit the farmers’ community to the tune of six billion rupees. We are confident that the budgetary proposals would help realise the objective of increasing the tax base as it contains a number of measures for documentation of the economy, besides providing maximum relief to those segments of the society that are presently under pressure. It is also hoped that whosoever forms government after the general election, it would be difficult to reverse the welfare and relief components and this would benefit the masses a lot.