The government has postponed the presentation of the budget to parliament by a week as bureaucrats and politicians struggle to complete their preparations to meet the scheduled May 28 deadline.
Finance Ministry officials said that cancellation of the IMF delegation’s visit to Islamabad after the killing of Osama Bin Laden delayed the compilation of the Economic Survey of Pakistan, a document that is released prior to the budget.
Besides, the authorities need more time to re-adjust the budget framework in light of commitments given to the IMF in Dubai, officials added.
After the IMF delegation refused to come to Pakistan citing security threats, the country’s economic managers had to rush to Dubai on
May 11 and stayed there till May 18, delaying the process of budget making.
The Finance Ministry officially did not confirm budget postponement and said “it has yet to be decided” but informed sources suggest the budget will now be unveiled on June 3.
The ministry officials suggested that presentation of the budget has been delayed due to political manoeuvring going on behind the scenes, a charge denied by Pakistan Peoples Party insiders.
Sources said the government needed more time to adjust the new fiscal framework in light of commitments given to the IMF.
The government went to the IMF with a fiscal deficit target of Rs963 billion, or 4.5 per cent, of GDP. The IMF, however, asked Pakistan to restrict the gap between national income and spending to Rs 856 billion, or four per cent of GDP.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2011.