ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has spent Rs439 billion without approval of parliament, which forced it to slash the development budget by Rs300 billion, besides approving Rs106-billion supplementary budget to meet the additional expenses.
Owing to a steep reduction of Rs300 billion or 37.5%, the government issued only Rs106 billion in supplementary budget in the outgoing fiscal year 2018-19, showed the budget documents tabled in the National Assembly.
In fiscal year 2018-19 ending June 30, the Ministry of Finance issued Rs222 billion worth of technical and regular supplementary grants, according to the budget documents. The government has now placed these details before the National Assembly to seek its ex-post facto approval.
Out of the Rs222 billion, the federal government adjusted Rs116 billion within the budget, including the shifting of Rs24 billion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects to the schemes recommended by parliamentarians.
The government has sanctioned Rs106 billion in regular supplementary grants for meeting ‘unforeseen’ expenditures, which were not approved by the National Assembly. These included the amount sanctioned for the military and Pakistan Air Force to meet the additional expenditures incurred during the standoff with India.
In its last year in power, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had issued Rs599 billion in supplementary grants. It issued Rs259.3-billion regular supplementary budget for servicing and repayment of domestic and foreign loans.
The PTI government did not issue any regular supplementary budget for debt servicing as former finance minister Dr Miftah Ismail had made relatively realistic debt servicing allocations.
The other reason was that the PTI government cut the development budget by Rs300 billion and diverted it to debt servicing.
For the outgoing fiscal year, the finance ministry had allocated Rs1.6 trillion for debt servicing, which has now been shown at Rs2 trillion in revised estimates. The additional Rs400 billion spending on debt servicing was met by cutting the development budget and current expenditures of other ministries.
The budget documents showed that Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) spending would be mere Rs500 billion in the outgoing fiscal year, 37.5% or Rs300 billion less than the budget approved by parliament.
Overall, the PTI government spent Rs439 billion without the approval of parliament and Rs300 billion came from slashing the development budget. The remaining amount was Rs139 billion, against which it issued net Rs106-billion additional budget.
The PTI government had set the budget deficit target for the outgoing fiscal year at Rs1.9 trillion or 5.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). But the budget documents showed that the deficit would hit a minimum Rs2.8 trillion or 7.2% of GDP, largely because of the hit on tax revenues.
The government has given Rs36.2-billion additional budget to the armed forces in the outgoing fiscal year, increasing total allocation for the defence budget to Rs1.136 trillion.
An amount of Rs20 billion in the supplementary budget has been given for fencing of the Pak-Afghan border, according to the budget documents. Another Rs5.6 billion has been given to the army for recurring expenses of the Special Security Division.
An amount of Rs4.3 billion has been given to the PAF in addition to its regular budget for fuel cost that it incurred during the standoff with India.
The military was also given Rs18.5 million for repair and maintenance of Cessna Grand Aircraft, which is in use of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The finance ministry issued Rs190-million supplementary budget for picking up litigation cost in the Karkey case which a Turkish power generation company filed against Pakistan.
In violation of financial rules, the Ministry of Finance has issued Rs12.2-billion supplementary budget to the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. The ministry’s original budget was only Rs1.5 billion and as per rules the supplementary budget cannot be more than the original budget.
The PTI government also gave Rs24 billion of CPEC projects to the Cabinet Division for parliamentarian’s schemes. The Cabinet Division’s original allocation was Rs14.7 billion and it got the supplementary budget in violation of rules.
The government also issued Rs180-million supplementary budget to pay to commercial banks for the promotion of Pakistan Banao Certificates. But the scheme has failed despite appeal by the prime minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2019.