LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR - The first budget presented by the PML-N government has evoked a harsh reaction from political leaders from opposition who have called it anti-poor, while the people in the government called it a poor-friendly budget.

PTI Punjab leaders, Ijaz Chaudhary and Dr Yasmin Rashid said that there was no relief for the poor and working class in the budget, while increase in the electricity tariff on the budget day reflected rulers’ apathy towards the poor and middle class.

They said that tax increase on food items would amplify the suicides ratio in the country.

PTI leaders said that federal budget should have been made according to the needs of small farmers and the common man. They said education and health were ignored in the budget.

JI chief Syed Munawar Hasan said that the federal budget not provided any relief to the poor, while the new taxes would lead to further price hike.

He said that one percent increase in GST would cause five percent increase in the prices. “Federal excise duty had been imposed on essential items including ghee, sugar and vegetable oil. On the other hand, the rich people have been facilitated with the 25 percent reduction in excise duty.”

He said the allocations for the health and education were low that showed that PML-N did not give priority to these sectors.

He said that the new government continued the Benazir Income Support Programme with the changed name and Rs75 billion would be given away to PML-N workers.

He added that the PML-N government was ready to buy electricity from India, ignoring brotherly Iran.

Commenting on the federal budget, PML-Q President Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said that the government allocated some amount for the youth, copying the programmes of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that the PML-N government made the life miserable for layman by increasing the GST.

He said that the government should run the BISP with its own resources and not by burdening the common man with new taxes.

The senator said that 10 percent increase in the pension was a joke with the government employees.

PPP leader and former Punjab finance minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira criticised the government for not giving a penny to the government employees in the federal budget. “The PPP government had increased the salaries of government employees by 150 percent in the previous budget, but the present government has not even given 20 percent raise in salaries.”

He said that imposition of general sales tax would hit the common man instead of the manufacturers. He also showed concern over withdrawal of subsidies on electricity, saying that common man would suffer the most from increased billing.

PPP Sindh Secretary General Taj Haider termed the federal budget as anti- poor and said that increase in GST would have a snowball affects and would increase inflation. He said on one hand GST was increased but tax was reduced on the import of luxury vehicles, giving incentives to the elites at the cost of the poor.

He said that imposition of withholding tax will ultimately increase the cost of doing business and would give rise to inflation.

On privatisation, the PPP leader said that the Nawaz government in the past had privatised 117 enterprises of which 90 were closed, resulting large scale unemployment. He criticised the finance minister for renaming the Benazir Income Support Programme. 

JUP-Noorani President Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair termed the budget as a jugglery of words and said that no steps were taken to control the price hike, adding that no relief was given to the poor.

PML-F Sindh General Sectary Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh congratulated the government for presenting a balanced budget and hoped that it would help boost the economy and bring prosperity.

Increase in the allocation of income support programme will help in ameliorate the lot of poor who were groaning under price hike and unemployment.

Imtiaz Shaikh suggested that increase in the GST should be withdrawn and salaries of lower income government employees should be increased.

The Sunni Tehreek has termed the budget 2013-14 as a document presented on the wishes of the IMF and world donor agencies in which no relief was given to the common man.

Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh President Senator Shahi Syed and General Secretary Basher Jan said that party meeting has been scheduled to look into the budget documents.

MQM’s Deputy Convener Nasir Jamal said that it will be early to comment on the Budget 2013-14. “MQM coordination committee is going to discuss various aspects of the budget in a meeting which will be held soon.”

PML-N Parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly Irfanullah Marwat called the budget as a balanced document in the present situation.

Leaders of opposition parties in KPK criticised the federal budget for ignoring the province and Fata while businessmen expressed mixed reaction, terming it a control budget having no major package for them.

Talking to the Nation, PPP Provincial Information Secretary Ayub Shah said that this budget was not balanced and people friendly as no increase had been made in the salaries of the government employees and daily wagers.

He said that the PPP had approved Prime Minister Package for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the PML-N government had abolished these packages.

ANP Spokesman Malik Mustafa also criticised the budget for ignoring KPK, saying that terrorism-stricken people of the province were ignored by the centre.

JUI Provincial Spokesman Maulana Abdul Jalil Jan said that neither it was a balanced budget nor people friendly.

The businessmen and industrialists said that neither the government gave any special incentives nor proposed any mega project for this region.

They said that they had expected major steps for supporting militancy-affected businesses and revival of industries in the province.

Though, the new PML-N-led government had presented a deficit budget but most of steps were appreciable, particularly earmarking Rs31 billion for Railways, and changing it into a corporation, said Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, Director Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber and Industry (PAJCCI). Sarahdi, who is also Chairman Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry Committee on Railways, said the privatisation of Railways would help controlling the deficit.

On fiscal targets set for 2013-14, he said that it could be difficult to manage under the present economic conditions. He said that it was also not a good move to increase With Holding tax on withdrawal of over Rs50,000 cheques. He criticised that the government had not announced any mega project for addressing energy crisis.

"We have expected few steps for giving relief to business community in the budget but no such initiative is proposed," said Sharafat Ali Mubarak, a leader of traders' community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.