President won’t become hurdle in Supplementary Budget: Imran

From Abid Usman

LAHORE: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday said that his party will oppose the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2023 in the Senate. However, he added that President Dr Arif Alvi will not become a “hurdle” to its implementation.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar earlier tabled the supplementary bill — dubbed as “mini-budget” — in the National Assem-bly and Senate in order to meet the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of the de-railed $6.5 billion programme.
The government through the bill has proposed to raise the goods and services tax to 18% from 17% as part of efforts to raise 170 billion rupees ($639 million) in extra revenue during the current fiscal year ending July.
The bill also proposed to raise taxes on luxury items, first and business-class air travel, cigarettes among other things.
The country has held talks with the IMF for the release of critical bailout funds, and with roughly enough reserves to meet only three weeks of imports it is looking to increase revenue despite multi-decade high inflation of 27%.
During an address from his residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park today, Imran Khan said that Dar met the president to get him to sign the ordinance but he refused and urged to settle the matter in the parliament.
“PTI will strongly oppose the bill in the Senate but the president will not create any hurdles in its implementation,” he added.
The former prime minister said that the inflation in the country will further increase with the approval of “mini-budget”, adding that the raising of sales tax will make all goods more expensive while the increase in gas and electricity prices will also make a big difference in the bills.
“Even if we accept what the IMF is saying, we will sink further into this quagmire… what is happening with Pakistan was bound to happen,” he added.
He warned that the current situation was “only a start” and the present government and their “handlers” were re-sponsible for it.
“I want to tell the people who are standing behind them that they (the government) have no planning. It is just like treating cancer with aspirin because even if the dollars come from the IMF, our income is constantly decreasing and our debts are increasing.”
He said that only a government with public mandate can take tough decisions to root out the “cancer”.
Imran said that the meeting between him, the president and former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa only held on the matter of elections.
“I learned during my time in power that the tenure of an army chief should not be extended,” he added.
The PTI chief said that nominating PTI leader Usman Buzdar as the Punjab chief minister was a difficult decision as the party had many candidates, adding that General (retd) Bajwa wanted to appoint Aleem Khan for the post.
Imran said that delay in elections would aggravate the situation further. “The nation should prepare for a peaceful pro-test because they (the government) have no intention of holding elections in 90 days,” he further said.