ISLAMABAD: Criticising the national budget 2016-17, Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah on Monday suggested that direct taxes should be increased and dependency on foreign loans should be decreased. Opening debate in the National Assembly on the budget, he termed it as directionless, visionless, having nothing for the unemployed youth, farmers and the downtrodden of the society. He said that the budget did not offer any solution to the rampant price hike. It could not be termed as people-friendly budget, he added. He said that the agriculture sector has been neglected badly in the budget. He also held large number of people out of tax net, responsible for higher indirect taxes. “The railway project introduced in 2013-14 budget speech has been renamed as the Orange Train Project,” he said. “We were told in last three budget speeches that Pakistan would get rid of the menace of load shedding within six months,” he said. But still Pakistan was enduring power deficit of 5,000mw and thus load shedding could not be ended by 2018 as most power project could not start power generation within the next two years due to variety of reasons, he added. According to experts, Pakistan could face water scarcity in coming years, he said. “We all collectively responsible for not initiating hydro power generation projects,” he said. He said that Pakistan still has the capacity to store 30 million cubic feet water but it was only possible if appropriate measures were taken at the earliest. Former prime minister had announced ending load shedding by December 2010 on persuasion of bureaucracy. Pakistan’s most of the villages were still enduring 14 hours load shedding, he remarked. The opposition leader said that fertilizers cost was very high in Pakistan as compared to the neighbouring countries. India was providing free electricity and water to its farmers to achieve good production, he added. He also said that inadequate incentives and lack of proper incentives resulted in the shortfall of 40 percent cotton produce during the current fiscal due to which Pakistan had to import it. – Instead ‘actual’ 6%, govt shows 4.3% budget deficit – He said that the actual budget deficit was six per cent but the government had shown only 4.3 per cent. He said that the government should inform the people about the ground realities, saying the nation was ready to face any situation for the betterment of the country. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, he said the target of foreign direct investment and GDP growth couldn’t be achieved, saying that the country’s exports have also decreased. He said that Pakistan has witnessed significant increase in borrowing domestic loans during the last three years. Khursheed Shah said that the government should have given equal share to all provinces in the PSDP projects to provide equal opportunities for growth and development and to neutralise feelings of deprivation especially in smaller provinces. He said that clear directions and goals should be set to overcome the challenges being faced by Pakistan including the unemployment, strengthening industry and reduction in inflation. He said that the non-developmental expenditures should also be decreased to strengthen the economy. He was also critical about the tax exemption on import of printed material and argued that it would hurt the local printing industry. He said that the government should focus on direct taxes rather than the indirect taxes to expand its tax collection net. He pointed out that only 0.7 percent of the total population was paying taxes. He also called for providing low cost electricity to local industry to improve its production and provide employment opportunities to the people.