PAKISTAN: Budget committee to remove defects

05 July 1996

State radio quoted Information & Broadcasting Minister Khalid Ahmad Kharal on 24 June as announcing the establishment of a committee to remove what were described as defects from the 1996/97 hudget. The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry has also began talks with government representatives in an attempt to persuade them to change parts of the budget.

The budget, announced on 13 June, included heavy tax measures, most notably an increase in the sales tax rate to 18 per cent from 15 per cent and was criticised as inflationary and harsh on ordinary citizens.

The failure to introduce income tax on wealthy farmers also received widespread condemnation.

The budget sparked unrest in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, where Reuters reports that at least two people were killed and about 70 injured on 24 June in clashes between police and protesters. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif told parliament that the demonstrators were followers of the Jamaati-Islami (Islamic Group) protesting against alleged government corruption and the imposition of new taxes. The demonstrations followed a nationwide protest strike called by Sharif on 23 June (MEED 28 :6: 96).

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