Dubai: Overseas Pakistanis have once again been completely ignored by their government in the federal budget announced on Saturday for the next fiscal year.
"We are very disappointed with the budget as there is nothing for the poor people while the overseas Pakistanis have completely been ignored," said Riaz Farooq Sahi, president of the Pakistan Association in Dubai. He said it was painful to note that the government did not announce anything for Pakistanis living abroad.
"Several government officials visited us abroad and promised incentives but nothing has been given. The government should stop playing with the sentiments of Pakistanis living abroad," he said.
For Tahir Schon, president of the Pakistan Business Council in Dubai, the budget was quite balanced under the circumstances. "Increase in salaries of government employees and also increase in the income for tax exemption for salaried people are good steps taken by the government," he said.
He noted that income targets set for the next year are quite high but are possible to achieve. However, Schon said the government should have announced some incentives for overseas Pakistanis who remitted around $8.5 billion (Dh31 billion) during the last fiscal year.
Ali Zaidi, a prominent businessman in Dubai, said the common man did not get any relief. "No flexibility has been shown on the petroleum surcharge. Interest rates are still extremely high and no new incentives have been offered on new investments or new industries," he said. He suggested the government should make long-term plans to ensure basic facilities like health care and education for all.
Mohammad Nafees, Chairman, Pakistan Chartered Accountants Forum in Dubai, said the government does not seem willing to experiment with new initiatives to increase the tax base.
The finance minister has mentioned all the problems in his budget speech but it appears he was reluctant to suggest any bold initiative to resolve those problems.
Nafees said there was hardly any relief for the poor in the budget. "The common man is in such a miserable condition that he has never been since the formation of the country. The poverty level has increased in the last three years while the per capita income has dropped.
"The inflation rate in commodities has been in the double digits for the last three years. Unemployment rate has increased to 7.1 in urban areas and 5.5 in rural areas. Pakistani youth is frustrated," he noted.
Nafees said the government should have announced some incentives for overseas Pakistanis.
Chaudhry Noorul Hassan Tanveer, a businessman, criticised the government for ignoring overseas Pakistanis in the budget, but appreciated the much-needed relief to salaried people.