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Govt determined to revamp agriculture sector, NA informed

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan says the government has introduced deep seated reforms to improve the efficiency of the energy sector.

Participating in the budget debate in the National Assembly on Monday, he said the previous government of PML (N) signed expensive power contracts and the country continues to bear the brunt of it in the form of capacity payments.

He said the PML (N) government also abandoned renewable energy projects of four thousand megawatts. He said we gave the renewable policy and revived the renewable energy projects to improve their share in the energy mix. This, he said, will accrue a benefit of four thousand billion rupees to the country in the next fifteen years.

The Minister for Economic Affairs said the PTI government signed a cheaper LNG agreement with Qatar, which will help the country save 3.5 billion dollars in ten years. He said we have made massive investments in the power distribution and transmission system and steps are also being taken to address the issue of circular debt.

Participating in the budget debate, Raja Pervez Ashraf said efforts should be made to ensure food security saying this is important for the development of the country. He said the budget envisages no incentives for the farmers. He said the proposal of granting arrest powers to the FBR should be withdrawn as it will only pave way for harassment of taxpayers.

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said the budget envisages allocation of 260 billion rupees for Ehsaas program which will help extend assistance to the downtrodden segments of the society.  She said the PSDP worth 900 billion rupees will help accelerate the process of development in the country.

Mian Javed Latif said the budget 2021-22 is not people friendly as loans will be taken to meet the deficit. He said if the economic indicators are on a positive trajectory, then why the prices of essential commodities are high.

Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, in his budget speech, said a new NFC award should be announced so that the provinces could effectively fulfill their responsibilities. He said funds should be given for the development of tribal districts.

Minister for Defense Pervez Khattak, in his budget speech, said that the government has presented the best budget and the whole country is commending it. He said the budget will bring economic revolution in the country.  He said change is taking place in the country with improvement in the living standards of the people.  He said we have given incentives to the industries and construction and this has started providing job opportunities to the people.

The Minister for Defense rejected the opposition parties’ criticism saying they can no longer hoodwink the masses.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin says international food prices are currently on the highest level in the last ten years, which is the real cause of food inflation in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

Responding to points raised by some parliamentarians, he said ironically, the agriculture sector was grossly ignored in the last eight years, which made the country a net importer of food items. He said we import 70 percent of pulses. He said now the government is determined to revamp the agriculture sector so that Pakistan can be made self-sufficient in food production. He said 260 billion rupees have been proposed in the budget for Ehsaas Program, which is the fourth best social protection network in the world as per a report of the World Bank.

Talking about the next budget, Shaukat Tarin said it is the PTI Government, which thought about the poor people for the first time in the history of Pakistan. He said the government successfully eliminated the Current Account Deficit of around 20 billion dollars and now it is determined to strengthen agriculture and the industry. He said all possible cooperation will be extended to strengthen the local industry. He said we are focusing on enhancing exports to ensure sustainable economic growth.

Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi said multiple measures have been suggested in the next budget to provide relief to the common people and to put the country on a path of development. He said we saved 700 million rupees in Port Qasim, while its net profit will likely reach 19 billion rupees by the end of this fiscal year. He said Port Qasim contributed eight billion rupees as tax to the national exchequer. He said gas sector has totally been deregulated.

Shahida Akhtar Ali said the affluent class should be brought into the tax net.  She said special emphasis should be given to enhance the export of halal food.

Dr Nafeesa Shah said paying electricity bills has become difficult for the people, while the government is busy in self-adulation. She said the levy on petroleum goods should be withdrawn to facilitate the common people of the country.

Sheikh Rashid Shafique urged the government to pay special attention to resolve various problems being faced by the people of Rawalpindi like provision of clean drinking water and infrastructure.

The House offered fateha for the departed soul of former Senator Usman Kakkar who passed away in Karachi.

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