Muscat: If you board a flight to Pakistan next time, be prepared to shell out more, as the Pakistan government has proposed to raised the airfares by 46 per cent.
In a written statement, the Finance Minister of Pakistan, Ishaq Dar, said on Wednesday that the government has proposed a hike of 46 per cent in tax on airfare for club, business and first class travellers in its budget.
For economy class, the government plans to increase federal excise duty on international air travel by 30 per cent, it said.
That means the ticket prices for business, first class passengers and economy are likely to go up. Under the new budget, excise duty on economy class travel may be increased by Rs 5,000 (OMR 19.5) per ticket and for business class and first class travel, it would be up to Rs10,000 (OMR 39.07) per ticket.
"This is very steep," lamented Mohammad Zafar, who works at a private firm in Muscat and hails from Karachi.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Irfan Rashid, Country Manager of Pakistan International Airlines of Oman, said that the new rates have not come into force. "It is still a proposal which has to be passed by the cabinet and we haven't got any circular from our head office in Pakistan," he said.
Pakistan International Airlines operates nine flights a week to Muscat from various destinations of Pakistan.
Terming the proposed airfare hike unjustified, another Pakistani national, Umar Abdullah said, "The hike is unjustified as the Pakistani expats play an important role and contribute towards the country's foreign exchange reserves."
He also said that the remittances sent by the Pakistanis from abroad help government to meet its debt obligations. "But they never pay heed to our needs and always burden us with new taxes or duties," he added.
Another Pakistani expat, Sohail Khan, said the budget is nothing but expression of it being business as usual.
"The government should have focused more on health, education, and security instead of giving more attention to road building.
It has disappointed millions of overseas Pakistanis by promising them nothing in the budget. Besides that, the airfares for international passengers have also gone up," he said.
However, another Pakistani expat from Sur, Abdul Kalam said that these proposed changes will lead to increase in taxation.
"This would then result in more refunds to the legitimate taxpayers and cost of non-filers; unless they are brought into tax net," he added.