ISLAMABAD: While the government touted budget 2020-21 as a “relief budget”, senior opposition leaders from the PPP, PML-N and the JUI-F have described it as a ‘people’s enemy’ budget. Reacting to the budget, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif predicted that inflation and unemployment would surge as a result of it. “The government first tried to hide behind the PML-N for its failures and now it is doing the same with the coronavirus,” he said, adding that the country had witnessed historical setbacks in terms of inflation, unemployment, and business during the incumbent government’s tenure. “This isn’t a budget, but a path to destruction,” said Shehbaz, adding: “Unfortunately, the nation is paying for this government’s incompetence.” The PML-N president said that his party had taken up the policy of “less inflation and more development”. The budget announcements proved that the government is not ready to take the “path of reform and wisdom”, he noted. “The current deficit of Rs1.7 billion in tax revenue is the performance of the present government,” he said.”For the first time in 68 years, the country’s GDP has plunged to negative. Is this the incumbent government’s performance?” he asked. Shehbaz lamented that fiscal deficit had never climbed to double digit yet this government had managed to do this as well. “The budget and its goals are unrealistic, and problems and public difficulties are likely to increase,” Shehbaz said, adding: “This is the first government that has failed to achieve its set targets of tax revenue, government expenditure, fiscal deficit, and GDP.” He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor had been halted by the present government and reduction in development expenditures was not a good omen. “Where is their creative thinking, increasing exports, developing agriculture and industry, and people-friendly budget measures?” he wondered. Rehman blamed the government for issuing the budget without any input from the opposition. “For the first time in history, the demand for a grant was not provided to the lawmakers — meaning the actual budget was not shared [with the opposition],” she said. The PPP leader said she was informed that lawmakers would be provided a copy of the budget in a floppy disk. She said that this was a good initiative but the files were provided to the MNAs during the session, which prompted them to hoot and protest. Terming budget 2020-21 “non-transparent”, she said that the opposition’s input should have been sought on the document. “I am sure they will take out a rolling budget in the next three months.”
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