LAHORE: The ruling PML-N and Punjab chief minister welcomed the budget as balanced while the opposition parties reject it as anti-worker and pro-capitalist.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the federal government had presented the best, people-friendly and balanced budget and no burden had been placed on common man.

He said solid steps had been proposed for the promotion of textile industry whereas interest-free loans to small farmers for installing solar powered tube-wells was a welcome step.

He said that allocation of billions of rupees for energy projects reflected seriousness of the government for ridding the people of energy crisis.

JI: Jamaat-e-Islami emir Senator Sirajul Haq says the budget does not provide any relief to the masses and the targets fixed by the government are unrealistic and unachievable.

He said the budget had disappointed the salaried people. He said that the government had indicated 10 per cent increase in salaries and pensions. He said there won’t be any increase in production as the government policies were not expected to improve the conditions of the industry and agriculture.

Secondly, he said, the government claimed credit for raising foreign exchange reserves to $16 billion. But official figures reveal that exports had decreased by three per cent and the raise in foreign exchange was not because of government’s efforts but because of increase in remittances, special Saudi grant of $1.5 billion, sale of $2 billion Euro bonds and also of the Sakuk bonds.

The JI chef noted that last year, the government had fixed target of increase in GDP at 5.1 per cent while the actual increase was 4.2 per cent. Besides, he said, the growth in industry and agriculture had been negligible.

He said the finance minister himself had admitted that the budget deficit was 5 per cent.

PAT: Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chairman Dr Tahirul Q!adri says the real budget will come after this one is passed by the National Assembly. The PAT chief says as long as this government is in place Pakistan can never rid itself of the loans and markup.

He said like last year this budget has also been prepared by the wizards of International Monetary Fund and the people have no expectations from this as it fulfills all desires of the IMF.

Dr Qadri said education, health, local bodies have been ignored and all the resources are to be spent on new bridges and roads. He said nations do not grow by giving relief to cement and iron industries.

PTI: MPA Dr Nosheen Hamid, Dr Zarqa and other Tehreek-i-Insaaf leaders said that the government launched a suicide attack on the common people through its budget for 2015-16.

They said that instead of providing any relief to the masses the government focused on increasing taxes on one pretext or the other. They said the women were already worried about balancing their household budget and the new budget had put extra burden on them.

PML-Q: Chaudhry Zaheer, general secretary of the PML-Q said finance minister Ishaq Dar read out the budget prepared by the IMF.

He feared a new wave of inflation as a result of the Rs253.2 billion new taxes proposed in the budget.

AWP: The Awami Workers Party rejected the federal budget as class-based, in favour of capitalists, feudals and multinational companies, and against expectations of the working class.

AWP general secretary Farooq Tariq rejected the minimum wage increase for workers from Rs12000 to Rs13000, demanding the minimum wage at Rs25000 per month for unskilled workers.

He said the government offered budget concessions to capitalists whiles completely ignoring workers. He claimed that never in the history 7.5 percent wage hike was offered to the employees as it had been at least 10 percent.

The AWP said that relief in air travel for Gilgit Baltistan was an election gimmick as polls in the northern areas were due on June 8 (Monday) and urged the Election Commission to take notice of this pre-election “rigging”.

JUP: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, also rejected the budget saying it promised nothing for the poor.

JUP president Pir Ejaz Hashmi said the budget was based on IMF terms which excluded anything for the poor.

He termed shameful the Rs1000 increase in the minimum wage.

TI: Tehreek-i-Istiqlal president Rehmat Khan Wardag criticized the government for meting out a discriminatory treatment to employees against the secretaries as the former have been offered 7.5 percent against 100 percent increase for the latter in the budget.

He said the secretaries were already enjoying perks and privileges other than higher salaries and the new budget would further widen the gap between wages of subordinate employees and the secretaries.

About the health insurance scheme, he regretted that government hospitals were lying closed and the ones which were open lacked medical and para-medical staff.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2015