ISLAMABAD, (APP): Senator Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday said increasing inflation could be controlled by strict adherence to the competition laws, which would help break the nexus of monopolists and cartels, besides providing a level playing field to the local industrialists and farmers to achieve sustainable economic growth.
Resuming debate on the Federal Budget-2022-23 in the Senate, Senator Rabbani called for the restoration of trade unions and revisiting the lists of organizations performing more essential services in order to protect labor rights.
He also demanded the implementation of the tax relief measures announced by the government in its budget for the low-income and salaried classes to protect them from the rising inflation.
He stressed the need for preparing indigenous policies, besides minimizing the influence of multilateral and lending institutions in order to maintain fiscal and financial sovereignty.
Raza Rabbani suggested the government renegotiate with the International Monetary Fund the loan facility under new terms and conditions, keeping the parliament on board. He regretted that the parliament had never been taken into confidence in any agreement with the IMF.
He also proposed the government withdraw the State Bank of Pakistan Amendment Bill, 2022, and asked for keeping parliamentary oversight to maintain financial and fiscal discipline.
Regarding the import of cheap petroleum products from Russia, Senator Rabbani said there was not any formal agreement between the two countries. All the major refineries in Pakistan were not capable to refine the Russian oil, he added.
Senator Danesh Kumar of the Balochistan Awami Party emphasized the need for including measures in the budget which might bring the less developed areas under development priorities.
He called for rationalization of funding for the projects initiated under the Public Sector Development Programme and allocation of resources for timely completion of the ongoing projects.
He also asked for allocating special resources for the development of less developed areas of Balochistan and also providing better facilities for communication, education, and health to the people there.
He expressed his concern about various incomplete development schemes, which were initiated in 2015, but are still in progress. It appeared for the funds allocated in the budget would take more than a decade to complete.
He suggested that the legislators should be given appropriate time to go through the budgetary document so that they could help in proper policy formulation.
Senator Muhammad Abdul Qadir said there was a need to decrease imports and focus on increasing exports. A conductive atmosphere should be created for businessmen, while facilitation centers should be set up to attract foreign investment, he added.
Senator Behramand Tangi criticized the economic policies of the previous government and termed the federal budget a good attempt to provide relief to the poor.
Senator Dilawar Khan said keeping in view the facts and figures, it would be difficult for the government to even meet its expenses. The rising inflation was a serious issue that needed to be addressed, but the imposition of a petroleum levy would further increase it, he added.
He urged the government to provide targeted subsidies to protect the vulnerable segments of the society, in spite of measures benefiting the elite class.
He asked for establishing industrial units in each district with a public-private partnership to reduce poverty instead of distributing Rs 2,000 under the Benazir Income Support Programme.
He also called for financial compensation for the tobacco farmers as their crops had been affected by the rains.
Senator Mahtab Hussain Dahar said the government should work on the promotion of the agriculture sector through various schemes and programs.
The farmers should be provided relief through various effective measures, including reducing the prices of tractors and provision of free solar panels.
He said efforts should be made the promotion of agriculture research in the country. More research centers should be set up for the purpose.
He said wind power generation should be increased in the country and local industry should be encouraged to produce maximum wind power equipment.
Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen said the people of Balochistan were facing hardships due to a shortage of water and drought in various parts of the province. The government should allocate more funds for the water projects to facilitate the people of Balochistan.
He said a health card scheme should also be provided to all the districts of the Balochistan province.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha said load-shedding should be decreased as the people were facing problems due to hot weather conditions.
He proposed that a committee should be constituted regarding the role of the Senate in making budget recommendations.
Senator Muhammad Akram said the education budget should be increased as the country needed more creative minds and experts in various fields.
He said Balochistan’s fishermen community should be provided maximum facilities. The government should resolve the problems being faced by the people of the province on a priority basis.
He said the people of the low-income segment were facing hardships due to inflation and the government should give maximum relief to them.
Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad said tax laws and filing of returns should be simplified. The tax net should also be expanded for enhancing revenue collection.
Senator Zeeshan Khanzada recommended the government take measures to protect the poor segments of society from the impacts of inflation.
Senators Muhammad Humayun Mohmand and Fawzia Arshad also took part in the budget debate and recommended the government expand the tax net for strengthening the economy.
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