Rawalpindi - The business community of the city termed the budget 2017-2018 as a balanced plan, however, below expectations for the traders. The businessmen expressed hope that the agri-based business would make all out efforts to take maximum mileage of the facility announced.

Giving his reaction to the proposed budget presented by the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar before the National Assembly on Friday, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Acting President Khawaja Rashid Waien said that a number of good decisions have been part of the budget speech but a comprehensive reaction on this subject would be announced later from the forum of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry after thoroughly studying the proposed finance document.

He said that the trader community was having great expectations from the budget but the relief for the masses was not up to the mark. He said that the relaxation of duties on agri machinery was laudable as it will help boost the agriculture sector. However, we have concerns over the duty imposed on cement and increase in capital gain tax on dividends and securities, Waien said.

He said that we appreciate the increase in taxes for non-filers, adding that this would help to document the economy and increase the tax net.

On the other hand, the labourers, teachers, clerks, government employees and people belonging to different walks of life have given mixed reaction over the federal budget 2017-18. The labourers and government servants said that the government has once again neglected them by announcing meagre raise in salaries.

They demanded of the government to provide relief to the working class, increase their salaries and slash the prices of edibles and others daily use items.

“The government has raised the minimum wage of a labourer from Rs14,000 to Rs15,000 which is a joke with the poor. How is it possible to run the kitchen for a six-member family with this amount,” said Tanveer Abbasi, a labourer in Saddar. He said that the rulers have been drawing handsome salaries besides enjoying other facilities while the poor were facing hardships even in having two meals a day, he said. He rejected the budget.

 “The government only provided relief to the business class and neglected the other working class such as labourers, shopkeepers, vendors, and commoners,” said Atif Abbasi, a government servant.

He said the government failed in bringing change in the life of poor. “The holy month of Ramazan has arrived. How would poor people buy food from the markets where prices of every edible have been increased,” he said. The government should fix Rs30,000 as the minimum salary of a labourer, he said.

Shehzad Khan Qureshi, a lawyer, also lashed out at the government for meagre increase in salaries of the government employees. He said that the MPs got 200 per cent raise in allowances and salaries but the employees who play an important role in running the government machinery were pushed to the wall.

Saba-e-Noor, a student, also criticised the federal government for presenting an anti-poor and anti-working class budget. She said that the government neglected the education sector as well.

All Pakistan Clerks Association representatives also rejected the budget and said that the association would take out a protest rally against the government.

Employees of Pakistan Railways also bashed the government for presenting an anti-poor budget. They said that it was being expected from the industrialists-cum-rulers that they would present such a disappointing budget.