LAHORE - Experts have suggested the government to decrease indirect taxes and increase allocations for development programs in the budget 2016-17.

Addressing the jointly held forum of The Nation, Nawa-i-Waqat and Waqt TV at Aiwan-e-Waqt yesterday, they asked the government to focus on the construction of hydel projects, inflation control and increase the tax net for achieving the goal of development.

Former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha, PML-N MPA Rana Arshad, PPP leader Naveed Chaudhary, FPCCI vice-president Rehaman Azia and economist Qais Aslam addressed the forum while the senior journalist Saifullah Sipra conducted the proceedings.

The speakers, on the occasion, asked the Punjab government to make double increase in allocations for agriculture sector in the provincial budget as the sector was the backbone of the country’s economy. “There is a need to provide subsidy to small farmers as the prices of cotton and rice faced considerable decline in the season and crushed the growers,” they said.

“The government had been provided support prices on seven crops in the past which limited to only wheat and sugarcane. India provided support prices on 25 agriculture products,” they added while urging the Punjab government to provide support price on all important crops.

“The government was asked to control the non-development expenditures which could not be decreased despite claims. Corruption, tax evasion and hiding of assets are the issues plaguing the country for years and require immediate attention of the government to control them.

“The current year allocations for development projects were Rs600 billion which should be increased to Rs900 billion in the coming budget,” they said, adding the government must ensure the transparent use of the funds for the mega projects.

They also urged the government for making planning to get rid of loans from international institutions. “The Punjab government should make a considerable increase in budget allocations for education, health and labour sectors,” said the speakers.