Parliamentarians on Thursday expressed mixed reaction over the budget 2018-19, some of them hailing it for being business and people friendly while others criticizing it for not addressing various budgetary issues.

Participating in budget discussion, Member National Assembly, Qaiser Shaikh said that the government had given tax-free budget, aiming at 6.2 percent growth rate.

He said that all the political parties unanimously endorsed the reduction in taxes, which was a great achievement by the government and would be written in golden words.

He said that the growth rate during fiscal year 2017-18 was recorded at 5.8 percent, which was highest in 13 years. He said that the inflation has reduced to the lowest level of last 30 years while the government had given many incentives to promote agriculture sector, resulting in growth of 3.8 percent of this sector during FY2017-18.

He said that the government had also taken measure to check undervaluation of real estate.

Qaiser Shaikh stressed the need for developing a consensus on long term economic plan to lead the country towards progress and prosperity.

He said that the metro bus and orange train projects have benefited poor people more than the rich ones, as poor were using these services for travelling from one place to another.

He said that spending on these projects was also funding for education as students and relevant people were using these services. Similarly road facilities have facilitated ill people to reach to hospitals in less time, which is a service to health sector.

He said that there was need to benefit from the experiences of other countries and promote exports by giving incentives to exporters and focus on value addition.

Meanwhile, Asad Umar, while participating in budget debate, said the growth rate shown by the government was not realistic and the target fixed for next year was also beyond reach as indicated by top economic experts and world financial institutions like International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said the circular debt has risen to Rs 500 billion, but there was no mention of it in Pakistan Economic Survey and no budgetary allocation was made in the budget to repay it. He said that refunds of Rs400 billion were also not mentioned in budget.

He underlined the need for reducing indirect taxes, saying that people were paying about 51 percent on purchase of sugar.

He said that investment recorded average growth of 15.5 percent during last five years, which was lowest in the history of the country, the exports of the country also remained stagnant during the last five years, while the trade deficit has expanded from $20 billion to $40 billion.

He said debt during 1998-2008 increased by Rs3000 billion, while in 5 years of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government it increased Rs10,000 billion and during the current regime, the debts increased by Rs12000 billion.

External debt witnessed increase of $5 billion 1998-2008, $17 billion while in PPP government, it increased by $17 billion and during the five years of incumbent government, the external debt increased by $33 billion, he added.

He said that there was 7000 megawatt shortfall as on May 1st 2018 which was same as in 2013. He said that the government had failed to create employment opportunities for the youth.

Khawaja Suhail Mansoor while participating in the debate said that instead of criticizing the budget, there was need to find out its shortcomings and fix them for bringing improvement in economy.

He said that broadening tax net was not a rocket-science as potential taxpayers could easily be identified by their life-standard.

He also underlined the need for developing proper import and export policies which would have positive impact on country’s economy.

Chaudhry M Ashraf said the government took concrete steps to overpower power load shedding in the country and added thousands megawatts to the national grid system. He said many coal and RLNG based power plants to enhance power generation.

Lal Chand while taking part in the budget discussion said no relief was announced for the general and poor masses in the federal budget. He said Sindh produced 70 per cent gas of total country production but still many areas have not gas facilities.

Asia Nasir said there should be education emergency in the country to steer the country into right direction. She said despite tall claims of central and provincial governments no concrete steps were taken to construct dams and over power energy crisis in the country.

Hamid ul Haq said alleged that the federal government completely ignored Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa during last five years and no mega project was started in the province.

Khalil George said budget was always prepared keeping in view country’s situation rather than as per people aspiration. He said priority should be given to health, education and safe drinking water.

Dr Arif Alvi said circular debt and refund claims were not mentioned in the budget. He called for announcing special package for Karachi in order to address water issue of the port city.

Later, the House was adjourned to meet again on 10:30am.