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    Finance ministry spokesperson defends imposition of Rs350bn in ‘mini-budget’

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    Finance ministry spokesperson defends the imposition of Rs350bn in ‘mini-budget’: The price of petroleum products in the country will decline in the coming days, Finance Ministry spokesperson Muzzammil Aslam said on Saturday.

    Addressing a press conference, the spokesperson defended the government’s decision to impose further taxes worth over Rs300 billion — through the Finance Bill 2021 — and said the international money lender had demanded more. 

    It is pertinent to mention here that the government has been facing severe criticism after it raised the price of petrol by Rs4 per liter on the eve of the New Year to meet the petrol levy targets of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    Aslam said: “The IMF had [asked the government] to impose taxes worth Rs700 billion, but we introduced taxes of only Rs350 billion.”

    Speaking about the soaring inflation, the spokesperson said that inflation was a global phenomenon and a similar situation was witnessed in 2008 — a year of severe worldwide economic crisis.

    He also noted that it was important to review the rates of inflation over the last six months, but stated that several financial sectors performed well during the previous year.

    Meanwhile, earlier today the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) released its monthly inflation data which skyrocketed to  12.3% in December.

    The spokesperson added that the Finance Bill 2021 was not the “mini-budget”, as the Opposition had dubbed it. “We are also putting an end to the unnecessary tax exemptions awarded by the previous governments.”

    After introducing the supplementary finance bill on Thursday in the Parliament, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin had termed the Opposition’s criticism of imposing additional burden on the people and of a consequent rise in inflation as “baseless”.

    Addressing a joint press conference, flanked by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, Tarin had said that tax revision worth Rs343 billion has been revised in the bill.

    Sharing details of the supplementary finance bill, he had said that Rs70 billion rebate included taxes on luxury and business items including imported fish, high-end bakery items, expensive cheese, and imported bicycles.

    Tax exemptions worth Rs2 billion will be removed from items of general use like personal computers, sewing machines, matchboxes, iodized salt, red chilies, and contraceptives.

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