ISLAMABAD

The government on Monday approved the schedule of preparatory activities for the upcoming budget 2015-16, which is likely to be announced in the last week of May or first week of June.

Federal Minister for Finance, Ishaq Dar approved the schedule of preparatory activities for the budget 2015-16 while also issuing instructions for urgently finalizing the budget strategy paper. The meeting also had a detailed discussion on the macro-economic and fiscal framework of the budget.

According to the schedule of preparatory activities, the budget strategy paper would be submitted to the Federal Cabinet next week and presentation on budget strategy to Parliamentary Standing Committees on Finance and Revenue will be made in May. Budget proposals would be shared with stakeholders and meetings with business persons/chambers etc. would also take place in May. The budget is likely to be announced in the last week of May or first week of June as outlined in the budget activities schedule.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Finance also chaired a meeting to review arrangements for launching the Exim Bank, announced as a budgetary initiative for fiscal year 2014-15. Secretary Finance briefed the minister that all spade work for the launch had been completed and explained that to start with the bank would be launched as a DFI with authorized capital of Rs.10 billion. The minister issued instructions to prepare a comprehensive business plan for his consideration before launching of the Bank. He said that founding of this Bank meant to promote export re-finance facilities and support the small and medium scale enterprises.

In another development, Ishaq Dar also chaired a meeting considering important matters for establishment of Mortgage Refinance Company.

The Company by the proposed name of "Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company Limited" is envisaged to be formed with the objective to promote, develop and improve the housing finance market to increase accessibility and availability of affordable housing finance with greater participation by the banks and financial institutions. The refinancing facilities will be for long, medium and short term period to banks and financial institutions against their existing conventional and Islamic housing finance portfolios.

The finance minister said that the new company must provide all forms of technical advice, consultancy support and assistance to banks and financial institutions in conventional and Islamic housing finance and products along with developing and promoting international best practices for housing finance in Pakistan.

The Company will have an authorized capital of 10 billion rupees with Rs.6 billion as paid up capital. The government will release its share of 2% of equity commitments immediately.

Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Saeed Ahmad will be its first chairman till the new board is formed and selects its chairman under due process. The company's head office will be located in Karachi. The equity will be contributed by the government of Pakistan, NBP, Askari Bank, HBL, UBL, Bank Alfalah, HBFCL, Bank Al- Habib, ABL, and contributions are expected from IFC and ADB.