ISLAMABAD

Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Tuesday said that government would announce the annual budget 2014-15 on June 3 in National Assembly with total outlay of Rs 3,973 billion and budget deficit of 4.8 percent of the GDP for next fiscal year.

Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar briefed the joint session of the National Assembly and Senate Standing Committees on Finance Revenue and Economic on the upcoming budget 2014-15. The committee proceedings were declared in-camera on the request of Finance Minister. Sources informed The Nation that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has spent most of the time on giving briefing on current economic situation of the country instead of budget proposal. He recalled the economic achievement of the government during first year of its tenure including elimination of circular debt, IMF programme, auction of 3G/4G, auction of Eurobonds and others.

Participants of the meeting informed that Finance Ministry has given briefing to the committee on the main contours of the budget 2014-15 in the joint parliamentary committee.  However, the government’s economic team did not disclose the taxation measures in the meeting.

The committee was informed that the total volume of the upcoming budget is estimated at Rs 3974 billion with fiscal deficit at 4.8 percent of the GDP (approximately Rs 1630 billion). The government would allocate Rs 700 billion for the defence budget, Rs 525 billion for public sector development programme (PSDP) and debt servicing Rs1,347 billion. Meanwhile the government has decided to keep revenue collection target at Rs 2810 billion for next fiscal year. Meanwhile, the non-tax revenue for the next budget has been projected at Rs817 billion. The government has estimated subsidies at 229 billion, Rs215 billion for paying pensions to retired employees and Rs 285 billion for federal government service delivery. Inflation rate is projected at eight percent and GDP growth at five percent.

Finance Minister would announce the budget on June 3 2014, as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has summoned the session of the National Assembly on the same day. Sources said that government is mulling to increase salaries and pensions by 10 percent in the budget.

The lawmaker of opposition parties showed dissatisfaction over the budgetary measures of the government by saying these would result in rapid increase in inflation rate. They showed serious concerns over the government’s proposed revenue collection target of Rs 2810 billion and doubted that FBR might struggle to achieve it. They informed that government did not give taxation measures. They were of the view that government should call the standing committees three months before to the budget to incorporate the proposals of the lawmakers.

Ishaq Dar assured the parliamentary committee that government would release the developmental funds under Prime Minster’s discretionary funds under People’s Works Programme-II (PWP-II) after the judgment of Supreme Court of Pakistan. “Finance Minister has assured the committee to release the funds worth of Rs 10 million for each parliamentarian under PWP-II after the Supreme Court judgment”, said Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood of JUI-F.

He added that government would release the funds of the outgoing fiscal year in next year, as it did not release single penny for the lawmakers for development works in their constituencies. Member National Assembly of Pakistan Peoples Party Naveed Qamar also opted same stance and said that we have asked the Finance Minister to release the funds for developmental projects of the country

Former Finance Minister Senator Saleem Mandivalla, termed the budgetary targets as ambitious and budget strategy paper as ‘wish-list’. Senator Talha informed the media that government’s measures would increase the inflation rate in the country. He informed that government has target to increase foreign exchange reserves to $19 billion by the end of the next fiscal year 2014-15, which are $13 billion currently. He showed doubts over the tax collection target of Rs 2810 billion, as he said target is challenging. He disclosed that government has not kept single penny for Dasy hydroelectric project in the budget. Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao of Quami Watan Party expressed dissatisfaction over the presentation on budget, as he said it was ‘sketchy presentation’. “The government should call meeting of standing committee two months prior to budget so lawmakers could give their recommendations”.  MNA Naveed Qamar termed the revenue collection target Rs 2810 billion set for next financial year as ‘notional’. The government has fixed the fiscal deficit target with consultation of IMF.