Mini-budget to be presented on Jan 23: Asad Umar

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KARACHI : Finance Minister Asad Umar on Saturday announced that the government will present the mini-budget on January 23.

The mini-budget was initially set to be presented on January 21 but was delayed as Prime Minister Imran Khan will be travelling, Umar said during a meeting with industrialists at Karachi Chamber of Commerce.

“Tax anomalies will be removed in the mini-budget,” the finance minister said. “Any changes in tax policy will be made after approval from the Parliament,” he added.

Umar further said, “Powers of Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) statutory regulatory orders (SROs) have been withdrawn.”

During the meeting, industrialists expressed reservations over powers given to low cadre FBR officers.

Speaking to the media after his meeting, Umar said, “In the 21st Century, private sector runs the economy, thus, we have to prioritise our decisions.”

“Till we don’t create a favourable environment for private investors, they will not invest after a certain limit no matter how patriotic they are,” he added.

The finance minister continued, “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is the only political party which mentions ease of doing business in its manifesto. Every month a meeting is summoned and chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss ease of doing business.”

“Savings and investment are at their lowest in the country. This is why in the mini-budget we will take measures to lower consumption and increase investment,” he stated. “The Finance Bill to be tabled on January 23 will highlight benefits of investment and ease of doing business.”

Last month, in his briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Umar had said the government was mulling over bringing another supplementary budget.

This would be the second such budget introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government since it was voted into power in the July 28 general election.

The finance minister had presented Finance Supplementary (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the National Assembly in September, saying that “difficult times called for difficult measures”. The ‘mini-budget’, as it was called, cut planned development spending and increased taxes for higher earners.

The key proposals in the mini-budget included withdrawal of the government’s decision to increase petroleum development levy; Rs5 billion relief to the export industry; increase in minimum pension to Rs10,000; increase in duty on expensive mobile phones; duty on 1800cc and above vehicles at 20 percent; increase in WHT on banking transactions for non-filers to 0.6 percent; and introduction of health cards, among others.

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