Islamabad: The National Assembly resumed its session at the parliament house in Islamabad today [Friday] with Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair.
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail is presenting budget for the next fiscal year.
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wants to extend maximum relief to the people, especially the poor during these difficult times.
For this purpose, the government has taken several steps to provide subsidy and assistance. He, however, said that the continuation of this will require more resources.
To achieve this, there is a need to impose special tax on higher income earnings in order to divert the resources to the poor people.
Miftah Ismail said our budget philosophy is to enhance agriculture production, especially the edible oil in order to reduce agricultural imports, separately. We need to promote industries to bolster exports and earn valuable foreign exchange. This, he said, will help address the issue of balance of payments on permanent basis.
The Finance Minister said austerity is the top priority of the present government. Reducing government’s expenditure is part of this budget and we are taking concrete steps in this regard. He said there will be complete ban on purchase of vehicles. Except, development projects, there will also be a ban on procurement of furniture and other items. The petrol quota of cabinet members and government officials will be reduced by 40 percent. There will also be ban on foreign tours under government expense, except the important ones.
According to the vision of Prime Minister, the Finance Minister said a medium term macro economic framework has been prepared to put the economy on the path of development. He expressed the confidence that we will be able to put the economy in the right direction through this framework. He said our biggest challenge is to achieve growth without Current Account Deficit. Therefore at least five percent will be achieved without disturbing the balance.
Miftah Ismail said the GDP will be enhanced from 67 trillion rupees to 78.3 trillion rupees during the next financial year.
He said we are trying to reduce inflation by better fiscal and monetary policies. The inflation will be reduced 11.5 percent during the next fiscal year.
He said the tax to GDP ratio is estimated to the increase to 9.2 percent from the current 8.6 percent during the next financial year. He recalled that we had left this ratio at 11.1 percent in the year 2017-18. He said the overall deficit which currently stands at 8.6 percent will be gradually brought down. This will be brought down to 4.9 percent in the next fiscal year. Similarly, the overall primary balance which is currently -2.4 percent of the GDP will be improved to 0.19 percent.
The Finance Minister said the imports, which are expected to be 76 billion dollars during the current fiscal year will be reduced to 70 billion dollars in the next financial year. At present, exports are 31.3 billion dollars, which will be enhanced to 35 billion dollars in the next fiscal year. The current account balance will be reduced to -2.2 percent of the GDP from the current -4.1 percent.
The remittances which will remain 31.1 billion dollars during the current fiscal year are expected to rise to 33.2 billion dollars in the upcoming fiscal year.