With the country’s economy tottering, Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Ismail unveiled a Rs 9.502 trillion budget, up about 12 per cent from the current fiscal. Over 40 per cent of the spending would go into servicing debts. “These are difficult times brought upon us by recent years of economic mismanagement. Through this budget, my government will steer our way out of these challenges by taking tough decisions while minimising the impact on vulnerable segments,” the minister told Parliament. The defence budget has been pegged at around Rs1.523 trillion, up 3 per cent from the current fiscal. While the proposal for a 15 per cent hike in salaries of government employees and raising the income tax exemption limit to those earning Rs 1 lakh a month would put more money in the hands of tax-payers, the government hopes to generate an additional Rs 300 billion by imposing a petroleum levy of Rs 50 per litre. In recent weeks, the government has implemented a series of unpopular measures such as raising fuel prices sharply to revive a $6 billion loan programme with the IMF.
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