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Finance Minister’s Super-Tax Bomb!

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail has said the government has decided to levy super tax on the affluent class to reduce budget deficit in order to end reliance on foreign assistance and take the country towards economic sovereignty.

Winding up discussion on the budget for the next fiscal year, he said individuals and companies earning 150 million rupees will have to pay one percent additional tax, two percent additional tax on 200 million rupees income, three percent on 250 million rupees income and four percent additional tax on 300 million rupees income. He said this tax will be for a period of one year.

The Minister for Finance said that thirteen high earning sectors including oil and gas, cigarettes, cement, LNG terminals have also been identified for imposition of ten percent super tax on income of three hundred million rupees. He clarified that this will be one time tax.

Miftah Ismail said that there are nine million retail shops and it has been decided to bring 2.5 million of them to the tax net. A fixed tax will be imposed on them.

He further said that only twenty two gold shops out of thirty thousand are registered. A fixed tax will be levied on the gold shops measuring up to three hundred square feet whilst sales tax on big jewellery shops has been reduced from seventeen to three percent.

He said withholding tax on sale of jewellery has been reduced to one percent from the current four percent. He said a fixed tax will also be imposed on car dealers, restaurants and those constructing houses. He said the tax has been imposed on income and not consumption. Therefore, these measures will not cause inflation.

The Minister said after incorporating various suggestions and measures the tax revenue target has increased to 7470 billion rupees for the next fiscal year. He said 4373 billion rupees will be distributed to provinces as their share.

The Finance Minister said that the government has tried to reduce burden on the weak segments of the society. He said that sugar, flour and ghee will be provided to the people at subsidized rates throughout the year at the Utility Stores. He informed the House that one million people have so far registered to avail Sasta Petrol and Sasta Diesel scheme.

The Minister also announced incentives for different sectors. He said the condition of withholding tax and statement for IT companies with the revenue of less than eighty million rupees will be exempted.

e said a tax being charged from Oil Marketing Companies at the rate of 0.75 percent has been brought back to 0.5 percent. He said Overseas Pakistanis having NICOP card will be included in the active tax payers’ list.

He said income on the plots of the families of martyrs and war injured has been exempted from tax. He said relief has also been given to leather and surgical goods.

The Finance Minister said the government has safe the country from default and know the country will be taken towards development. He said the previous government took an unprecedented loan of twenty-thousand billion rupees in four years.

He questioned how a country can remain economically sovereign by taking huge loan that is why we have to revive the stalled IMF program. He said difficult decisions were taken in the national interest after consultations with all the allied parties.

He said given the current account deficit which will remain 17.50 billion dollars, we have to agree to the IMF recommendations to safe the country from default.

Miftah Ismail said that this is the most pro-farmer budget ever presented in the last two decades. He said this farmer friendly budget will accrue long term benefits for the country and help bolster agri-products, besides achieving self-sufficiency in edible oil, wheat and other crops.

Talking about recommendations made by the Senate, he said most of the suggestion of the Upper House has been incorporated. He said Senate’s recommendations on pharmaceutical goods will be entertained in the next budget.

Concluding the winding up speech, Miftah Ismail announced honoraria equal to two months basic pay for the staff of all the departments including Radio Pakistan, PTV and APP who performed duties in the budget session.

The National Assembly on Friday expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious human lives in the recent earthquake in Afghanistan.

Speaking in the House, Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said Pakistan stands with Afghan brothers and sisters in this difficult time and it will provide all possible assistance to them.

On the request of the Speaker, Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali offered Fateha for the eternal peace of the departed souls and prayed for early recovery of the injured.

The House also prayed for the early recovery of former MNA Daniyal Aziz, who got injured in a road accident.

The House will now meet again on Monday at 5 p.m.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.