Pakistan: No new taxes, no power tariff hike in next budget, promises finance minister

Shaukat Tarin Pakistan Prime Minister
Pakistan’s finance minister Shaukat Tarin has promised there will be no additional tax and no electricity tariff increase in the upcoming budget. Image Credit:

Islamabad: Pakistan’s finance minister Shaukat Tarin has promised there would be no additional tax burden on the salaried class and no more electricity tariff increase either in the upcoming budget. Pakistan government is likely to unveil the next budget on June 11.

“We will not burden the people. Tariffs will not be increased. This is our promise,” Tarin vowed during a virtual press briefing on Sunday. The annual inflation rate in Pakistan increased to 11.1 per cent in April 2021 – the highest since February 2020.

The country recently informed International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it could not currently raise its tariffs or taxes and renegotiated with the global lenders to secure breathing space for the people and the economy. The government would not increase the burden on the honest taxpayers not increase electricity prices but consider alternative measures to meet the IMF tax target at Rs5.96 trillion, the finance minister said.

Emphasizing the importance of revenue collection, Tarin said that the government would use technology and other measures to broaden the tax base. The government revenues would be enhanced by over 20 per cent or about Rs1 trillion this year to reach closer to the IMF targets, he said.

Tax evaders punished

Tarin also vowed to introduce legislation to put tax evaders behind bars. “We will not use force and rather encourage people to pay taxes” through third-party audits and use of technology and provide them facilities, he said.

Government expenditures would be controlled through targeted subsidies and circular debt payments. The subsidies would be reduced and targeted to benefit those who deserved it. PM’s special assistant on social protection Dr Sania Nishtar would devise a new programme for next year to offer subsidy on electricity, flour and other essential commodities to the poor people.

Pakistan’s economy recorded a 3.94 per cent economic growth rate this fiscal year, showing a positive trend amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tarin said the ministry has formulated short, medium and long-term plans for 12 critical sectors to boost economic development which would be presented to the prime minister for approval. The first priority was price stability to be achieved through administrative measures against traders involved in hoarding and profiteering and to ensure a smooth supply of essential items.

In the long term, the government plans to set up infrastructures such as commodity warehouses and cold storages for farmers to help them sell their produce directly to ensure price stability. Another key focus would be on supporting productive sectors of the economy such as housing, agriculture, industry and exports through special initiatives.