ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday said the aim of the 2015-16 budget was not to burden ordinary citizens with more taxes.
Addressing a post-budget press conference in Islamabad, Dar said all data relating to the budget must be reported responsibly, adding that news pertaining to ending wheat subsidies in Gilgit-Baltistan was incorrect.
He said a section of media misreported the facts and showed irresponsibility while reporting the budget speech.
“It was unfortunate and media should avoid such irresponsible reporting,” he said.
The finance minister said more than Rs6 billion have been kept for wheat subsidies for Gilgit-Baltistan. Dar went on to make a few more clarifications and said that there had been no increase in the price of sugar.
“Prices of mobile phones have not been increased; in fact they have been reduced,” Dar added.
“Duty on furnace oil and high speed diesel has also not been increased,” the finance minister said. He said “inter-adjustment” of already invoked rates had been announced yesterday during his speech, which had been misconstrued as an “addition”.
While clarifying the tax on mobile phones, the finance minister also said that the Rs 300 raise in tax was only on expensive moblie phones, which were usually used by the rich.
Dar said the tax on expensive mobile phones was Rs700, which had been proposed as Rs1,000 in the budget 2015-16. He added that it is incorrect to say that the tax on mobile phones was doubled in budget as now only sales tax would be charged on the import of phones while the regulatory duty had been abolished.
The minister also said the purchasers of first category of low priced mobile sets would get a concession of Rs50 as they used to pay Rs350 on their import, including Rs150 sale tax and Rs200 regulatory duty and now they would have to pay sales tax of of only Rs300.
He said the sales tax on import of second category of mobile phones had been fixed at Rs500 against total Rs450 charges, including Rs250 sales tax and Rs200 regulatory duty.
Similarly, Rs700 was charged on third category of mobile phones, including Rs500 sales tax and Rs200 regulatory duty, while now the buyers would have to pay sales tax of of only Rs1,000, he added.
While talking about the cement industry, the finance minister stressed the importance of protecting the local industry, adding that duty imposed on cement is only on imports. He labeled the duty on cement imports as “preemptive action” to promote the local industry and avoid cement dumping.
The finance minister also said that the government was willing to collaborate with all political parties to develop an economic charter.
Dar further said that the government had announced steps in the budget to create around two million new jobs in the country.
The finance minister also said that government had raised the allocation for Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) in the budget 100 per cent.
He said the PBM’s budget had been doubled from Rs2 billion to Rs4 billion in order to provide medical treatment facility and other assistance to a large number of the needy.
The minister said incentives were announced to encourage the construction and 16 allied industries. Sales tax on bricks and crushed stones had been waived for three years which would reduce the construction cost, he added.
“The incentives to be given to the construction and agriculture sectors will help create new jobs,” he hoped.
Dar said the solar tube-well project would help farmers save Rs1,600 per day using diesel-run tube-wells and Rs500 per day using petrol-run tube-wells.
The finance minister went on to say that the government decided to start a census in the country from March 2016. He said that the incumbent government had allocated funds for the census in budget.
The federal cabinet on Friday approved the budget for the 2015-16 financial year with a total outlay of Rs4.313 trillion, which is 9.1 per cent higher than the revised 2014-15 outlay of Rs3.9tr.
Addressing the Speaker on Friday, Dar had said that a growth rate target of 5.5pc had been set for the upcoming year, which he said was budgeted to reach 7pc by the end of PML-N government’s tenure in 2017-18.
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