In his long speech on the Federal Budget, Chaudhry Nisar also demanded imposition of Agricultural Tax. Off course, he was playing to the galleries and MQM, who has been demanding the same from the government for many years.
In response, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Samsam Bukhari said that “This job (of agriculture tax) has been given to provinces and nobody has stopped them (from imposing the levy)”. This was reported in Dawn on 9th June, 2010.
Question to Chaudhry Nisar is: will his government in Punjab impose farm tax? Charity begins at home. Please do so in Punjab. Being the big brother and the “least corrupt” province in Pakistan as per Transparency International, all other provinces will follow Punjab’s lead.
ISLAMABAD, June 8: Opposition leader Nisar Ali Khan proposed agriculture tax on behalf of the PML-N as he opened a general debate on the budget in the National Assembly on Tuesday, to be told by a minister that the provinces were free to levy it.
Chaudhry Nisar lambasted the federal budget for 2010-11 as visionless and accused the government of doing little to deal with the country’s major problems such as the pricehike, energy shortages and poverty, climaxing his tirade with a token opposition walkout over perceived failures, including an alleged disregard of Supreme Court rulings and a delay in bringing a new accountability law.
But despite his strong criticism of what he called the “worst record” in the economic field in over two years of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s government, he found “freshness” in soft-spoken Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh’s presentation of the budget on Saturday, often speaking extempore, hours after taking oath as a cabinet member, though he said he differed with the minister’s “overall perspective”.
“There is not even a far-off sign of spring, … a hot wind is blowing, a storm is blowing,” the opposition leader said about the prevailing situation and called for making the budget acceptable to the opposition by making “clear and effective changes” before putting it to vote on June 28.
Though the opposition came back to the house a few minutes after the walkout, the government-allied MQM, which staged a separate walkout to protest at additional electricity charges levied in Karachi, did not return before the house was adjourned until 11am on Wednesday.
What would have raised many eyebrows was Chaudhry Nisar’s reservations about a monthly allowance of 50 per cent of basic pay given to government employees, which he said was increased from an originally proposed 25 per cent without consulting provincial governments.
That provided Minister of State for Information Sumsam Ali Bokhari, who responded to the opposition leader’s speech, an easy ground to praise the budget as “pro-poor”, which he pointed out also raised pensions.
The opposition leader said the raise was good but the federal government did not consult the provinces, which had to bear the major impact with Punjab, where his party is ruling, having to face an additional burden of Rs42 billion.
In this situation, he said, the federal government should bear the additional cost to provinces at least for one fiscal year.
Chaudhry Nisar got some unexpected cheers from the MQM benches when he -speaking for his party — said time had come to impose tax on the agriculture sector to help the country come out of a serious economic crisis, though the size of taxable land holdings would be debatable.
He said while people of smaller incomes were paying income tax, “why those earning not lakhs but crores from agriculture should not pay tax?” and added: “This anomaly must be removed.” But Minister of State Bokhari, who said farming community in most parts of the country was already paying taxes like land revenue, water charges and levies on agricultural inputs, had a challenging reply to Chaudhry Nisar, whose party’s base is in Punjab, the main food- and cash cropgrowing province.
“This job (of agriculture tax) has been given to provinces and nobody has stopped them (from imposing the levy),” Mr Bokhari said.