ISLAMABAD - The federal budget 2020-21, to be announced in the first week of June, would focus on mitigating people’s sufferings through different measures including creation of job opportunities, Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said.

 The budget would be formulated considering the impact of COVID-19 on the people and businessmen, he said speaking in a private TV programme and hoped to meet their budget expectations. “This is the ‘corona-budget,’ so we would like to mitigate the sufferings of our people and give them a hope, provide them cash, food and recreate employment opportunities for them,” he said. In the past, austerity measures were placed as dominant feature of the budget, he said and added there still was need that the expenditures were made in a way so that the public money was not wasted. 

Dr Hafeez said the government money would be spent in a way so that troubles of the people suffering from coronavirus could be mitigated. He said that it was a big economic principle that through government expenditures money goes in the hands of people who generate economic activities and create jobs, which helped in tackling recession. He said that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year would also feature balanced tax collection approach.

The government would adopt a strategy for documentation of economy, however it would not be so strict that it hurt the businesses. He said that the government would try its best to enhance taxes at a reasonable rate to help in the growth of economy.

Dr Hafeez said policies would be introduced, in consultation with provinces, to improve agriculture productivity, promote industry and exports. However, the private sector had to play a big role, as government could only make policies and provide business-conducive environment for them, or give some subsidies from its limited resources. “The real players are the businessmen, investors, exporters, workers and farmers.”

The advisor said that the country had to focus on enhancing business relations with other countries as no country in the current era could progress on its own. He also underlined the need for enhancing exports, reducing imports and also giving incentives to the expatriate Pakistanis to invest in their homeland and open their business here.

He said that the government was making economic policies for the public good adding the State Bank of Pakistan had reduced the policy rate, whereas the government had also announced relief packages to ensure the economic activities were not affected much.

Stressing the need for striking a balance between health and economic activities, he said the government had to protect people from COVID-19’s effects and at the same time it had to save the country’s economy. He said the prime minister had many times stressed the need for taking measures with wisdom so that economic activity could be generated, but not at the cost of health. He said that after passing through the current hard times, hopefully within two months, the focus of the government would be on strengthening the long-term trend of economy, to ensure welfare of the people.