“The parties have the same agenda and are facing the same issues,” Khurshid Shah, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, told the media earlier yesterday. “The alliance of opposition leaders against the ruling party would be finalised soon.”
The senior PPP leader said he had met with PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi to devise a future course of action to force the government into adopting “people-friendly policies”.
Despite the fact the PPP has lost popularity in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Shah claimed the party still had a strong vote bank and could regain its lost glory. He was addressing a press conference at the residence of PPP leader Syed Zahir Ali Shah in Peshawar.
About the announcement of a Rs40 billion mini-budget, he criticised the government for imposing further taxes. “The new back-breaking taxes will have a negative impact on the economy of the country,” he believed.
The PPP leader claimed to have opposed the taxes in the National Assembly, adding the party had submitted an adjournment motion as well. “The national budget is a sacred document submitted once a year,” he said. “But the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has a habit of presenting mini-budgets throughout the year.”
Talking about the ongoing Karachi operation, Shah said the port city was yet to be cleansed of terrorists but criminal activities had plummeted in the past two years.
Earlier, the Opposition leader handed over relief goods for earthquake-affected people to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government. He claimed to have visited several affected areas last week and found the people still in need of support.
He donated 50,000 blankets and three 250kV generators on behalf of the people of Sindh. “We can put our resources together to mitigate their problems,” he said. “It is the duty of the provincial and federal governments to rehabilitate all the affected people.”
Talking about the party’s failure in K-P in the previous elections, Shah said the PPP still could outdo other parties as it has its roots among the masses.
He refused to accept there were any differences among the party’s K-P leaders. “Difference of opinion is the beauty of the party as it is a democratic one and everyone respects the opinions of all leaders and workers.”
Shah said the PPP was a party that believed in democracy and had rendered matchless sacrifices. He said a five-member committee had been formed for the revival of the party in the province that would hold meetings to make arrangements for intra-party elections.
Meanwhile, another PPP leader censured the government for issuing the mini-budget to make up for its failure to expand the tax net, terming the move “regressive”.
“Our entire economic policy ignores public input, regardless of how the common man gets affected nor is the annual budget of any significance anymore,” said PPP Vice-President Senator Sherry Rehman in a statement.
“Despite the different explanations given by the finance ministry about the recent tax moves, it is clear the real objective is to bridge the taxation revenue shortfall ahead of the next IMF tranche,” she said.
The government has repeatedly failed to meet its own revenue targets, despite a significant shuffle in the tax bureaucracy.
She alleged there was little visible effort from the federal government to expand the tax net, while it continued to rely on indirect taxes.
As many as five ‘mini-budgets’ were introduced during the last fiscal year by the federal government, without any parliamentary approval. In most cases, the announcement was preceded by the failure to meet quarterly revenue targets set by the government.