Islamabad: The government on Saturday claimed that due to its corrective and effective measures, the GDP growth rate was doubled in the last five years while the inflation rate reduced by 50 percent which is the biggest achievement of the present government which is completing its five years term next month.

Addressing the post-budget press conference here today, Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail along with Advisor to Prime Minister on Revenue, Senator Haroon Akhtar said that the government made sincere efforts to put minimum financial burden on the common man and with adjusting the present duty structure, the government was able to give relief to all the segments of the society.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said this time, the government will ensure the release of funds to all the departments so that next year, there should be limited demand for the supplementary grants to meet the expenditures being increased due to incentives are given by the government in the next year budget.

Miftah Ismail, who presented the budget for the first time, even without being elected as a member of the National Assembly said, although the government has proposed to increase the Petroleum Development Levy it has not been actualized and it will be the discretion of the next government to utilize this option.

Advisor on Revenue Senator Haroon Akhtar appreciating the whole team of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for its hard work and dedication to prepare a balanced budget said due to the efforts of the FBR team, the revenue collection has been doubled from 2013 to 2018, in last five years.

He said in 2013 when the present government took over the charge, the total collection was Ra. 1200 billion which has been increased to over Rs. 2200 billion. He said the budget for the year 2018-19 is visionary document prepared by the government.

He said that the provinces were getting Rs. 1300 billion from the federal government, from the divisible pool, which has been increased to Rs. 2300 billion this year.

He said a number of steps have been taken by the FBR through adjusting the duties to protect the local industries. He said the budget was prepared after comprehensive consultations with all the stakeholders of the country and it is well prepared and well though budget covering all the areas of business and common man problems.

Replying to a question, the Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said the government hoped foreign exchange reserves will be increased by the end of the current fiscal year. He said with the export package announced by the government recently, there has been 13 percent increase the exports in last few months.

Replying to a query regarding circular debt, the Finance Minister said it is near Rs. 570 billion and the government has managed to pay Rs. 100 billion, which will reduce this burden. He said with the effective measures and calculated investment by the present government on the power sector, he said, more than 12,000 MW electricity has been included in the national grid.

He said budget subsidy has been reduced by the present government and now it has been slashed to Rs. 125 billion as compared to Rs. 250 billion when the government took over in 2013.

Replying to a question Senator Haroon Akhtar said the government is determined to increase the number of filers and added that the number of filers has been increased from 700,000 to 14,00,000 in the last five years. He said a number of penalties have been proposed in the next budget to increase the number of filers in the country.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Revenue Senator Haroon Akhtar while replying to a question said that real GDP growth at 5.8 percent is the highest in 13 years and the size of the economy of the country expanded from Rs. 22,385 billion in 2013 to Rs. 44,396 billion in 2018. He said the growth of 3.8 percent in the agriculture sector is the highest in last 13 years.

He further said, due to incentives being given by the present government in income tax and in customs duties, sales tax and federal excise duties, there will be Rs. 91,179 million reduction in the revenue of the FBR. He said due to income tax relief, the FBR will have to face shortfall of Rs. 135,394 million.

About restrictions to buy property on non-filers, the Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail said this step has been proposed to ensure documentation of the economy, to increase the number of filers and to discourage the concept of use of black money in the property business.

He said that for the first time, the federal government has given due attention for resolving the issues of energy and water crisis in Karachi and allocated funds for the improvement of water supply and to resolve power shortage for this city. He said the government has no plans to go to international Monterey Fund (IMF) for bailout Package in the current fiscal year.

Regarding increase in the duties of some of the commodities, the Advisor on Finance Senator Haroon Akhtar explained that duties have been increased on sale of cigarettes.

He said federal excise duty on cement is being increased from Rs. 1.25 per kg to Rs. 1.50 per kg which will be enforced after the approval of Finance Bill from the national assembly. He said rates of sales tax for steel sector is being increased to Rs. 13 per unit of electricity consumed while the rate of sales tax for other allied steel industries including ship-breakers and re-rollers is also being rationalized.