ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved Budget Strategy Paper for the financial years 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet here at the PM Office.

“The premier emphasized that sustained income and revenue streams will benefit the country instead of obtaining loans,” said an official statement issued after the meeting.

“The Budget Strategy Paper was discussed at length by the cabinet and several cabinet members provided useful suggestions for incorporation in the upcoming budget proposals,” it said.

The Finance Division presented the Budget Strategy Paper for financial years 2018-19 and 2020-21 and briefed the meeting about macroeconomic indicators of current financial year.

“The secretary finance briefed that the Budget Strategy Paper for FY 2018-19 to 2020-21 is based on four broad targets: sustained growth momentum, ensuring fiscal consolidation, managing balance of payments and ensuring debt sustainability,” said the statement.  “The meeting was informed that the recently announced Economic Reforms Package including lowering tax rates, widening the tax base, real estate reforms, local amnesty and tightening of foreign exchange regime, will help increase revenues and reduce the deficit,” the statement said.

Earlier, the government had rejected the opposition’s demand of presenting four months budget instead of a full one year plan.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail had said that government will present a full-fledged budget for the next fiscal year, ignoring the opposition’s hue and cry.

He said that the government would present the budget for next fiscal year on April 27 as the public had given the five years mandate to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and not four-and-half years.

The Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are pressing the government to present only a four-month budget and leave it to the next elected government to bring a full-fledged financial plan.

Ismail said that the government will announce special packages for the civil servants and retired pensioners in the upcoming budget for next financial year. “The government would provide added incentives to the civil servants in the budget as against the existing five percent inflation rate. The government would increase the defence budget as per requirements,” he had said.

The government had recently devalued the currency by 10 percent in two phases. Pakistan’s exports had recorded growth of 24 percent during March 2018 due to rupee depreciation. The government hopes that exports would show an increase of 20 percent in the next three months.

A federal minister who attended the meeting told The Nation that the government will accommodate the common man in the national budget under the PM’s directives.

“There will be something for everyone in the budget. This is, of course, the last budget of the government and we will try to please the public,” he said citing the discussions in the meeting.

The minister said that there was no pressure on the government to increase the defence budget beyond means. “There will an increase in the defence budget but not an extraordinary increase,” he said.

In the last few cabinet meeting, the prime minister had directed the finance ministry to prepare a poor-friendly budget.

Before the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Abbasi also chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council.