Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Omar Ayub, strongly criticized the fiscal year 2025 budget

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Islamabad: 20 June 2024: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Omar Ayub, strongly criticized the fiscal year 2025 budget as "economic terrorism" against the people during the debate on the finance bill. Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb presented the budget last week, featuring a total outlay of Rs18.9 trillion and targeting a modest 3.6% GDP growth along with a Rs13 trillion tax collection goal. The budget includes increased taxes for salaried classes and the removal of tax exemptions.

Debate on the budget commenced today in the NA after Eidul Azha holidays, with its approval scheduled for June 24. Ayub began the debate with vigorous opposition, claiming the budget was fraudulent and akin to "highway robbery" against the Pakistani populace and the nation's future. He accused unnamed "economic hitmen" of influencing the budget to destabilize the country, alleging they were behind the PTI's removal from power in 2022.

Ayub also criticized the alleged interference in his speech and lamented what he described as diminishing independence for the finance minister. He questioned the government's adherence to rule of law and implied that international confidence in Pakistan's economy would falter due to these factors. Additionally, Ayub accused the government of sidelining Aurangzeb by removing him from key positions, suggesting internal political maneuvers at play.

The opposition leader warned that the budget, aligned closely with IMF directives, lacked flexibility and autonomy for the government, predicting its eventual failure. He emphasized solidarity with PTI founder Imran Khan, contrasting it with what he portrayed as public disillusionment with the current administration.

Ayub's speech was marked by his contention that the budget did not have the support of the PPP, potentially jeopardizing its passage. He criticized Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal's remarks about Imran Khan's potential continued incarceration till 2029, cautioning of potential consequences.

Ayub's address was punctuated with accusations and dire predictions, setting a confrontational tone for the ongoing budget deliberations in the National Assembly.

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