ISLAMABAD-The government on Monday accepted the popular demand that was also made by both the Houses of the Parliament for raise in salaries to 20 per cent instead of 15 per cent, withdrawal of Carbon tax on CNG and waiver of 20 paisa levy on SMS. Winding up the debate on Finance Bill 2009-10 in the National Assembly Hina Rabbani Khar said that the government sought guidance from the Parliament and for that reason accepted most of the proposed amendments in the finance bill. The same would be incorporated in the finance bill before its passage from the house, she said. She also announced that National Finance Commission Award would be meeting next month and the much-awaited award would be announced within three months from its first meeting. Winding up her speech, she referred to the nine pillars which she had mentioned in her budget speech for the revival of economy, Hina said the government had positively taken the constructive criticism of the opposition and some 18 proposed amendments of the Upper House in the finance bill would be incorporated. Almost 70 proposed amendments in various clauses of the Finance Bill are incorporated while 18 have been modified, she said. Highlighting some of the important relief measures that were included in the proposed Finance Bill 2009-10, she said that Carbon surcharge on CNG was being withdrawn. This, she said would provide across the board relief of Rs 12 billion to the consumers. She said that to provide relief to manufacturers they have proposed to lower the with-holding tax from 4 per cent to 3 per cent for industrial imports. This involves a relief of over Rs5 billion to the manufacturing sector and would reduce their cost of production, she said. Regarding revision in ad-hoc relief allowance for BPS-16 she said the government had decided to revise it for civil employees in BPS 1-16 from 15 percent to 20 percent. This revision, she said would also be applicable to personnel of Armed Forces in BPS 1-16 and equivalent, who were earlier allowed only a 15 percent increase. She also announced increase in pension to 20 per cent for the old pensioners. Khar said on the demand of youth and children, additional Federal Excise Duty (FED) at the rate of 20 paisa per SMS was being withdrawn. The revenue loss would be compensated by increasing an additional FED on cellular services from 19 percent 19.5 percent, she said.She further said that 16 per cent excise duty on newsprint was also being waived. She told the House that the concept of third party audit by established and certified Chartered Accountant companies is being introduced. However, she said the government would ensure that it did not result in unnecessary harassment of business concerns. She also suggested that a quarterly economic performance meeting before the House or at least before the NA Standing Committee on finance would be held for review purpose. She said that next year the government would present the proposed budget before the house much before its passage from the house so that MPs could give maximum input in the finance bill. Referring to the difficulties when the government took over she said that at that time food inflation was 25 per cent and foreign exchange reserves were alarmingly low but due to in-time measures foreign exchange reserves soared to well over $11 billion and consequently brought down food inflation. Defending the increase of current expenditure by two per cent She said that in the face of 17 per cent revenue growth the increase was nominal and added that they had proposed 85 per cent in the development sector. She further elaborated the government plan of investing heavily in the human resource since 60 per cent of the countrys population comprised youth and they could utilize their potential. She also referred to the enhanced allocation of Rs 70 billion for Benazir Income Support Programme and referred it as a main tool to poverty alleviation. Earlier taking part in the budget debate the lawmakers urged the government to address the growing water scarcity and power crisis as well as announce National Finance Commission Award to revive national economy and uplift the peoples lives. Resuming the debate, Dr Darshan drew attention toward plight of displaced minorities families staying in Hasanabdal and asked the government to extend maximum facilities to them. Nawab Ali Wassan mentioned the sacrifices of the Pakistan Peoples Party for strengthening democracy and stabilizing the country. He said the presentation of people-friendly budget amidst difficult circumstances, was an achievement of the coalition government. Federal Minister for Agriculture Nazar Mohammed Gondal appreciated the financial experts of the government for revising the national economy during the days when it was going towards bankruptcy. He said increase in wheat prices meant for supporting the poor farmers not the landlords, hoping that the sugarcane production would witness a remarkable increase next year as steps were underway to improve the produce. Gondal said the ministry would shortly initiate a Rs37 billion project for construction of storage and a world class warehouse to facilitate the farmers to procure their produce. Dr Ayub Sheikh called for strengthening provinces and distribution of equal rights among federating units for uplift of the people. He said the differences among provinces might be resolved amicably if the government announced NFC award that had been a longstanding demand of the smaller provinces. Chief Whip of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Sh Aftab drew attention to deteriorating water scarcity in the country and added if the government failed to construct dams, the water shortage would become far more threatening than terrorism and extremism. He said the PML-N would extend all possible support to the government and stressed concerted efforts to rid the country out of crises. He expressed dissatisfaction over 15 per cent increase in salaries. Shahnaz Wazir Ali ruled out the notion that the budget was a juggling of figures; however she said it was prepared in difficult circumstances so difficult decisions were inevitable. Participating in the debate, Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N criticized the economic policies of the government. He also came down hard on the insufficient allocations for education and health sectors in the finance bill 2009-10. He said the government had increased its non-developmental budget and withdrawn subsidy from various sectors, which would cast negative impacts on the common man because of the increased inflation rate as a result of this strategy. Ahsan Iqbal said the government had no clear strategy for utilization of the foreign loans and debt servicing to improve the national economy. Tariq Mehmood Bajwa of PPP appreciated the political acumen of President Asif Ali Zardari for further improving the countrys image among the comity of nations. Memona Hashmi of PML-N expressed concerns over decreasing literacy rate and urged increase in the education budget and ensure its full utilization at the yearend. Sh Salahuddin of MQM congratulated the government on behalf of his party leader Altaf Hussain for presenting a balanced budget in the prevailing situation. Ramesh Lal of PPP said the government had prepared a balanced budget despite the difficult economic and law and order situation. He congratulated the entire nation for winning the Twenty-20 Cricket World Cup on the occasion of 56th birth anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. He thanked the government for increasing the minority development fund for the welfare of the community to bring them in mainstream for progress and development of the country. Syed Haider Ali Shah of ANP commended the finance team for preparing a balanced budget in which Rs 50 billion had been earmarked for welfare of the IDPs. He hoped the government would make sufficient arrangements for early rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs. Haider Ali Shah said IDPs rendered great sacrifices in the supreme national interest. Taking part in the debate Dr Donya Azia said the suggestions of Health Committee had not been incorporated in the budget, despite the fact it had been assured that these would be part of the budget. Minister for Special Initiatives Lal Muhammad Khan said that keeping in view the prevailing situation, the government had presented a balanced budget. Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi said war on terror was necessary as the country was suffering due to the activities of miscreants. MNA Awami National Party, Khurshid Begum lauded the government for presenting a pro-poor budget despite several challenges. She hailed increase in allocations for IDPs but said that those who were out of job for the last five years should also be included in it. Khurram Jahagir Watto termed the budget pro-people. He said since coming into power the PPP government took revolutionary steps for the welfare of the country. Mian Abdul Sattar said southern Punjab had been neglected in the provincial budget. Minister for Population Welfare Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan lauded the performance of financial team for presenting a poor-friendly budget despite economic recession confronting the country. Farkhanda Amjad Warraich urged the government to increase the Assembly allowance for the staffers of Associated Press of Pakistan and Pakistan Television covering the proceedings of the House to further improve their performance. Online adds: The Federal Government has issued directives to the Cabinet Division to issue notification with regard to 20 per cent increase in salaries and pension of its employees. Sources on Monday told a private TV channel that the majority of the members of the National Assembly and senators during their budget speeches demanded 20 per cent pay and pension raise for the government servants. Some days ago, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani during an interaction with a delegation of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) agreed to enhance salaries and pension of the government employees. On the other hand, the employees had also declared proposed increase in their salaries in the budget for next fiscal year as insufficient keeping in mind the alarming inflation. Meanwhile, the Punjab government would also issue the notification in this respect.