ISLAMABAD - PML-N led government has decided to present record sixth budget of its tenure on April 27, a month ahead of schedule, keeping in view the upcoming general elections and holy month of Ramazan.

“The government has decided to present the budget on April 27 after consulting with Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement,” said Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail said at a news conference here on Friday.

He was flanked by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Minister of State for Finance Rana Afzal Khan.

He informed the media the government would present the budget earlier than schedule due to arrival of Ramazan and completion of PML-N’s five-year tenure on May 31, 2018. “We want to give time to provinces to present their budgets,” he added.

The PML-N would be the first government in Pakistan’s history, which will present six budgets in five years tenure, he said.

Ahsan Iqbal said the decision of placing Pakistan on a grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) combating terror financing was taken on the pressure of the United States. “Recent grey listing is part of US’ new Afghan strategy to put pressure on Pakistan,” he added.

However, the decision of placing Pakistan’s on grey list would not affect the country’s economic situation, he remarked.

“In 2008 Pakistan was blacklisted by FATF, in 2010 it was put on grey list from black, in 2012 again put on black list, in 2014 it was put to grey from black, in 2015 it was removed from grey and put on white list, in 2018 again nominated for grey list,” the interior minister said. However, it had not put any impact on country’s economy, he said.

He further said that Pakistan had taken measures against terrorism and anti- money laundering.

Ahsan invited the political parties to sign charter of economy before the general elections to make national agenda for the economic development. The government has vigorously pursued 4Es strategy: focusing on energy, economy, eradication of extremism and education, he added.

The government has successfully achieved the results, as power loadshedding has controlled, economic situation improved, number of terror incidents reduced and budget for the higher education has also enhanced in last five years, he said.

He also presented the comparison of the economic situation of the incumbent government with the previous government.

Pakistan average GDP growth has improved to 4.8 percent during 2013-18 tenure of the incumbent government as against three percent during 2008-13 when PPP ruled the country, he added.

He further said: “Similarly, the average growth of industry has improved to 5.6 percent during 2013-18 as against 2.7 percent of 2008-13. The agriculture sector growth has increased to 2.4 percent from 1.5 percent. Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM)’s average growth has also improved to 4.7 percent during 2013-18 from 0.6 percent of 2008-13. Size of the national economy is now around $315 billion, which was stagnant at around $210-215 billion.”

Ahsan said the international rating agencies are praising the current economic situation of the country. The pace of economic growth would further accelerate due to completion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, which are in initial stages, he said.

He said: “The incumbent government has added 10,000 megawatt electricity to the national grid during the last five years as compared to 16000-18000 megawatt installed in last 66 years. Similarly, the government has also enhanced the spending on the infrastructure.”

The international institutes are now terming the country ‘Rising Pakistan’, which was considered as ‘Sinking Pakistan’ in 2013, he said, adding Pakistan is currently 5th fastest growing economy of the world.

Speaking on the occasion, Miftah Ismail said the government would achieve six percent economic growth during current fiscal year. “The growth rate can increase to 7-8 percent in next few years if people re-elect the PML-N in the general elections,” he added.

He further informed that the tax collection of the Federal Board of Revenue would touch Rs 4 trillion by the end of current fiscal year as against Rs 1946 billion collected in 2012-13.

Similarly, the revenue share of the provinces from the divisible pool would increase to Rs 2400 billion this fiscal year from Rs 1214 billion of 2012-13, he added.

The volume of federal development budget has enhanced to Rs 1001 billion from Rs 348 billion, he said. He said the budget deficit would be restricted to 5.2 percent during current financial year, which was 8.2 percent in 2012-13.

He further said: “Domestic debt to GDP is 41.1 percent by December 2017 as compared to 38.8 percent of 2013. The external debt to GDP has reduced to 20.6 percent in December 2017 from 21.4 percent of 2013. However, total debt to public debt has slightly increased to 61.6 percent in December last year as compared to 60.2 percent of 2013.”

Miftah Ismail said current account deficit is widening due to massive increase in imports as compared to the exports. “It is healthy sign that imports are increasing, which should not be restricted,” he added.

He also shared that current prices of petroleum products are lesser as against 2013. However, prices of electricity and gas have recorded slight increase as the government has also restricted the inflation rate at less than four percent, which was 12 percent on average in 2008-13, he stated.

He said foreign exchange reserves would be around $12 billion by June this year despite massive repayment.

 

Govt to present budget now

on April 27

 

 

 

IMRAN ALI KUNDI