ISLAMABAD : Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday chaired a high-level meeting for the preparation of upcoming fiscal budget 2019-20 laying stress on maximum possible austerity, development of backward regions, supporting marginalized communities and providing employment opportunities to the youth of merged tribal areas.
The government’s economic team presented budget proposals to the participants of the meeting. The prime minister advised the authorities to observe maximum austerity in the budget expenditures. According to sources, the meeting pondered over various recommendations pertaining to government workers and citizens.
The government is prioritizing development of backward regions and supporting the marginalized communities. The premier said that the people of erstwhile Fata had rendered immense sacrifices for the country and that the youth of merged tribal areas should be given maximum employment opportunities so that they can tap their potential. The meeting also reviewed strategy to counter possible protest by the opposition during the budget session.
The meeting was attended by Finance Adviser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar, State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Rizvi and other officials.
Meanwhile, the premier has called a special meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday (tomorrow) to approve the budget for the fiscal year 2019-20. The meeting will make a final decision for the increase in the salaries and pensions of the government employees.
According to sources, the cabinet will also discuss initiating easy loans for youth scheme and Rs200bn will be allocated for ‘Kamyab Naujawan Programme’.
The total volume of the budget is approximately Rs6,800 billion. After the approval by the cabinet, the budget and finance bill draft will be tabled in parliament while the Economic Survey of Pakistan will be released on Monday (today).
Important targets including economic growth, agriculture, industry, manufacturing and services could not be achieved in the current financial year. The economic growth plunged to 3.3 per cent against the target of 6.3%.
The growth of agriculture sector remained only 0.8% against the target of 3.8% in the current fiscal year.
A sharp decline was witnessed in the industrial sector that registered a growth of 1.4% against the target of 7.6% despite the fact that power generation witnessed an increase as several power plants and other power sector projects were completed.
The service sector grew by 4.7% against the target of 6.5pc, while the construction sector achieved the growth of 7.6% against a 10pc target.
Cotton output dropped by 12.7% against 9.86 million bales in 2018-19 due to shortage of irrigation water, use of low quality inputs such as inferior seed and fertilisers at the early stage of the crop and reduction of 12% in sown area.
Rice crop, too, declined by 3.3%, sugarcane by 19.4% against the last year’s production, while low water availability led to 3.1% and 17.9% reduction in the sown area for rice and sugarcane, respectively.