Economic plans: Govt set to unveil Rs3.5tr budget today

Published: June 12, 2013

Reducing circular debt, austerity, aggressive tax collection key targets. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The first litmus test of the newly sworn-in government will be today (Wednesday), when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar presents a Rs3.5 trillion federal budget in a bid to revive the country’s ailing economy.

Designed to target an estimated growth rate of 4.4% over the next fiscal year, the budget will seek to reduce non-development expenditures and fix a burgeoning energy crisis that has been costing the country 2% of gross domestic product annually.

But before the budget is presented to parliament, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to chair a cabinet meeting to give a final touch to the new budget.

Briefing the media on the new budget, Dar said that a reduction in the electricity circular debt of over Rs500 billion was one of the main thrusts of the new budget. Simultaneously, the finance minister reiterated that an ambitious revenue collection target has been set for the forthcoming year to finance an economic revival in the country.

He added that a 30% decrease in non-development expenditures was expected in the upcoming budget under austerity measures, and the reduction in expenditure would translate into relief for the common man.

Dar will highlight the salient contours of his government’s new economic policy in the traditional budget speech before the National Assembly, whose special budget session has been summoned by President Zardari at 4:30 pm.

Subsequently, the budget will be presented before the Senate at 6:00pm. Under rules of business, the Senate can debate and make recommendations on money bill, but final authority to pass the budget rests with the National Assembly.

Earlier, the National Economic Council (NEC) approved development projects worth Rs1.155 trillion, a day after the council was constituted. Chaired by the prime minister, the NEC expects to bring inflation down to single digits once again, with a target of 8%.

Challenging Task

Yet juggling the tough tasks of fixing systemic bottlenecks in the economy, while providing immediate relief measures, will not be a walk-over for the new government, despite optimistic pronouncements.

Given the mammoth fiscal problems faced by the newly inducted finance team, no big announcement of immediate relief measures is expected in the budget speech.

One of the foremost challenges, which will define the future course of the government, is the large share of debt financing in the federal budget. Similarly, large outlays in defence and subsidies (including those on energy), constitute a burden on the fiscal space available to the present government in the first federal budget of their five year term.

Further complicating budget management is the lack of parliamentary checks on supplementary grants. This means that often the amounts allocated in the budget for a financial year are regularly crossed over in actual expenditures. Last year alone, the budget head for subsidies was surpassed by an additional Rs450 billion in energy subsidies, compared to an original allocation of just Rs238 billion.

As a result, successive governments’ abuse of article 84 of the constitution has led to approval of excessive expenses by the parliament in the form of supplementary grants during the budget session every year. This has added to a burgeoning budget deficit and simultaneously resulted in lax fiscal discipline in a cash-starved economy.

Therefore, while analysts and markets are keenly looking forward to the budget speech, they are expected to equally and keenly observe actual government expenditures during its first term in office, as a measure of the government’s fiscal discipline.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2013.

Reader Comments (13)

  • mtanvira
    Jun 12, 2013 - 4:10AM

    Govt set to unveil $35.5 billion budget today, our annual corruption is $23.75 billion. That means only $11.75 billion is effective money in this budget.

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  • anybodyagree
    Jun 12, 2013 - 5:30AM

    At the end of the day common man is the loser…….?????

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  • Usman
    Jun 12, 2013 - 6:07AM

    Where’s your coverage of Faisalabad protests? Shame on you E.T.

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  • citizen
    Jun 12, 2013 - 9:11AM

    Congrats people . We middle class will soon be paying even more taxes, purchasing electricity at 21 Rs per unit , paying more for basic commodities . Thank you PML N . You will be making richer ,the richest and middle class the most miserable.

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  • Xnain
    Jun 12, 2013 - 9:49AM

    @citizen:
    If you call people with annual income above 2.5 million as “middle-class”, I am surprised. I guess expensive cars are not purchased by “middle-class” and lavish functions are also held by “middle-class”. Moreover, huge electricity consumption (>1000 units) is also done by “middle-class”. Great!

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Jun 12, 2013 - 9:56AM

    Its only money, who cares!!! Ignore what Min of Finance says. We should worry about the afterlife, eternity, as the good book says.

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  • Jun 12, 2013 - 10:27AM

    NOT OPTIMISTIC about the reduction in poverty; already 60% of the total population under the poverty line (USD1.25/Day to USD2.00/Day). They are READY TO SEVING RICHEST.

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  • BILAL
    Jun 12, 2013 - 10:33AM

    Where’s your coverage of Faisalabad protests? Shame on you E.T..

    Recommend

  • Jun 12, 2013 - 11:49AM

    He He Nawaz Sarif hardly have covered only 1 week as PM and he is taking steps very fast but like an uneducated person i means whatever they are approving are policies not any solitaire game.Policies need to be 1st studied and it takes months to study before you get to give your approval but Nawaz sarif seems have not studied those policies and are approving them like he will complete pakistans entire many approvals in only 2 months and will not take 5 year for which he was elected.Well Nawaz sarif seems to be very excited to become a PM but this king of ssuperfast approval will bring disaster in long run.I dont undrestan why Nawaz is in so hurry he has 5 years in his hand ??? Policies doesn’t take 1 days or week but years to flourish CheersRecommend

  • Ammar
    Jun 12, 2013 - 11:51AM

    It is just to make the budget 2013-14 look good, don’t know if the Babus going to like this or not. But it is yet to be seen if there are supplementary grants or not in months to come. Another test is the allocation of development budget and its full utilization.

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  • Tehseen
    Jun 12, 2013 - 12:07PM

    It is 35 Trillion. please correct it

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  • sher
    Jun 12, 2013 - 12:55PM

    YEAH, YOU GUYS ARE RIGHT…… Shame on you E.T. Where’s THE coverage of Faisalabad protests?

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  • Syed A. Mateen
    Jun 12, 2013 - 1:27PM

    Hope the first budget of PML(N) government will provide relief to a common man of Pakistan.

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