ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet on Thursday met under the chair of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and it approved ‘Budget Strategy Paper 2014-17’ as well as other proposals from various ministries.Finance Minister Ishaq Dar informed the cabinet that budget for next fiscal 2014-2015 has total volume of 37.43 trillion and it would be presented in the National Assembly in June. It has been proposed to set aside Rs295 billion for salaries, Rs163 billion for pensions and Rs525 billon for development projects in the upcoming budget.Finance minister and Finance Division Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan also gave a detailed presentation to the cabinet members on Budget Strategy Paper. Dar said that government is reframing the budget structure for the next three years, placing emphasis on major policy objectives.Elaborating on the positive economic indicators of the first nine months of the government, the finance minister told that during first half of the last financial year 2012-13 the GDP growth was recorded at 3.4% while it appreciated to 4.1 % in the 1st half of 2013-14. He added that the GDP growth for first nine months of current financial year is 4.14%.Chairing the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed for taking all possible economic measures to place Pakistan amongst emerging economies of the region while ensuring maximum relief for the people of the country. He said that appreciation in the value of Pakistani rupee against US dollar and consequent reduction in the prices of POL products became possible because of the pragmatic economic measures of the present government.Elaborating on the next three years’ budgetary framework, the finance minister told that they plan to increase GDP growth rate by 7.2% till 2016-17. Moreover, it was informed that the country’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $12.92 billion on May 13, 2014, which was an indicator of growing economy. The cabinet also discussed the budget proposals for 2014-15.The prime minister and other cabinet members appreciated efforts of the finance team, led by Ishaq Dar, for their persistent efforts to improve the overall economy of the country and for coming up with a balanced three years budgetary framework. The PM stressed for maintaining the same pace of economic growth in the coming years.Dar and Masood in their briefings also informed that rapid growth in industrial sector and import of machinery for use in large scale industries is indicators of growing economy. The most performing sector of economy remained the large scale industrial sector which grew at a rate of 5.2 %, while as in the corresponding period of the last financial year it was 2.9 %. The import of machinery also saw an increase from $2.9 billion last year to $3.8 billion in the current financial year. The performance of credit towards the private sector increased approximately three times as compared to corresponding period of the last year.During the meeting, the cabinet deferred the draft bill for the establishment of the National Food Safety, Animal & Plant Health Regulatory Authority with the directions that the ministry concerned should come up with revised draft after consulting the ministries of Science & Technology and Commerce so as to avoid overlapping and duplication of functions. It also ratified confirmation of the decisions taken by CCOP in its meeting held on October 3, 2013.The cabinet approved the different agenda items including amendment in seed act, 1976, framework agreement between China and Pakistan on Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project, agreement between Turkmenistan and Pakistan on Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation, MoU regarding up-gradation of Pak-Bahrain Joint Economic Committee (JEC), ratification of the agreement in the field of vocational training signed between Jordan and Pakistan on March 7, 2012, ratification of MoU between Pakistan and Turkey in the field of urbanization and signing of an agreement on cooperation in handicrafts between Pakistan and Tunisia.The cabinet also approved starting of negotiations on Cultural Exchange Programme between Nigeria and Pakistan 2014-2017, programme of cultural cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for 2014-2019, cultural cooperation between Pakistan and the Russian Federation for 2014-2018, starting of negotiations on MoU on cultural cooperation between Pakistan and Iraq for 2014-2019, starting of negotiations on the executive programme for cultural cooperation between Kuwait and Pakistan for 2014-2018, negotiations for renewal of MoU on cultural cooperation with Norway for the period 2014-2019 and starting of negotiations for cultural and scientific cooperation between Pakistan and Jordon for 2014-2018.It also approved the signing of an agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons between Pakistan and Korea, start negotiations and signing of MoU on cooperation in food security, in particular rice, between Pakistan and Bahrain, convention between Pakistan and Moldova for Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (ADTA)., signing of MoU between Turkish Standards Institution (TSE) and Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), and ratification of MoU between Board of Investment and Kuwait Investment Authority with the direction to come up with a comprehensive roadmap for increasing foreign investment in Pakistan.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 16-May-2014 here.