|12 June, 2019

Expats say Pak budget is balanced but unexciting

The government awarded rebate on 1,600 items

Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister of State for Revenue is seen at his office in Islamabad, Pakistan November 14, 2018.

Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister of State for Revenue is seen at his office in Islamabad, Pakistan November 14, 2018.

Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Pakistani expatriates in the UAE feel that overseas community has been left out of the Imran Khan-led government's first budget as no incentives or tax rebates were offered. But the business community termed it a balanced budget with focus on fixing gaps and austerity measures.

Residents and business community members said that akin to the previous government, the current PTI government failed to offer any incentives to overseas Pakistanis.

Iqbal Dawood, president of the Pakistan Business Council, Dubai, said there is no particular incentives for overseas Pakistanis, however, there were some measures taken for the benefit of industries.

"Taxes are plenty in the budget but there was no other option for the government. Pakistan's Chamber of Commerce had demanded relief on imports of raw material of 3,000 items. And the government awarded rebate on 1,600 items. It is a good step and we appreciate it," he said.

Hammad Azhar, Pakistan's Minister of State for Revenues, presented 2019-20 fiscal budget on Tuesday with an outlay of Rs7.022 trillion.

"Expatriates should support present government's initiatives as the country is facing difficult financial situation, which is caused by the financial mismanagement of previous governments," said Ahmed Shaikhani, senior vice-president at the Pakistan Business Council in Dubai.

Dr Ashfaq Hassan Khan, member of the Economic Advisory Council, which is headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, said this is the IMF budget and it will lead to inflation and further devaluation of the currency.

"In fact, economic growth under the IMF Programme for the next year is targeted at 2.4 per cent, exactly equal to Pakistan's population growth," he said.

Dr Hadi Shahid, managing partner, Alliott Hadi Shahid Chartered Accountants, said it was a very challenging economic time and required a strong decision-making.

He pointed out that there was no measure to encourage new investments into the country.

"The positive signs are the increase in basic salary of common employees, control of government expenditures and overall austerity steps," he said.

Muzzammil Aslam, former chief executive of EFG Hermes Pakistan, said it is a tax reform budget, but there is no respite in deficits.

"With tax-loaded budget, some sectors will be affected. We believe, the impact on stock market will be largely lesser than the initially anticipated. Markets have already priced in aggressive tax measures therefore, market will enter into the phase of certainty. Higher tax on fixed income will attract investors towards equities," he added.

Moeen Saleem, a Dubai resident, said he was dejected because there were no incentives for overseas Pakistan when investing in the country or sending remittances.

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