Govt missed revenue deficit target three years running: audit report

Published: October 31, 2012
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The continued revenue shortfall is reflective of the nonavailability of fiscal space for undertaking  developing spending.

The continued revenue shortfall is reflective of the nonavailability of fiscal space for undertaking developing spending.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has one of the largest public debt portfolios, totalling Rs12.1 trillion as of June 30, 2011, the Auditor General has pointed out in a draft report on the Ministry of Finance’s performance for 2011-12.

The Performance Audit Report covers a period of three financial years between 2008 and 2011. The audit mainly focuses on the compliance and core objectives of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005.

The report says that the share of domestic and foreign debt stood at 52% and 48% respectively for the period reviewed, while fiscal performance indicators remained weak due to the deteriorating economic and internal security condition of the country.

The report states that the finance ministry has not achieved its core objective of eliminating the revenue deficit through its policies, “as per national aspirations demanded under the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005.” The revenue deficit has, meanwhile, increased manifold.

Section 3(3) of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005, specifically demanded that the government reduce the revenue deficit to nil by the end of June 2008, and maintain a revenue surplus after this period. However, the audit found that the government could not meet the objective till fiscal 2011. It was found that the government was, therefore, in violation of a critical provision of the Act.

The continued revenue shortfall over current expenditure is reflective of the non-availability of fiscal space for undertaking developing spending in Pakistan. The government needs to generate a revenue surplus, or at least maintain a balance, in order to divert funds towards development.

In fact, the revenue deficit mushroomed to Rs359 billion or 3.5% of GDP during 2007-08; stood at Rs191 billion or 1.5% of GDP during 2008-09; and swelled again to Rs308 billion or 2.1% of GDP during 2009-10.

Meanwhile, the revenue balance worsened by 61.4% in comparison to 2008-09. This indicator suggests that the government’s resources were insufficient for financing not only development expenditures, but also current expenditures required for financing borrowed resources.

The audit recommended that the government give a firm commitment and timeframe for regulating the revenue deficit, as it has already consistently missed its target since 2008.

The report also observed that the State Bank of Pakistan, in its annual report for fiscal 2010-11, had stated that the government was unable to meet even its revised tax collection targets. It observed that it has become regular practice to set ambitious targets at the time of budget planning, which are then revised downwards several times during the year. Thereby, it recommended that the government endeavour to enhance its revenues and regulate current expenditure to overcome the deficit, and also come up with a realistic tax collection target.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance did not reply when repeatedly approached by The Express Tribune over the last month for the ministry’s reaction to the report.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.

 

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Adeel Mirza
    Oct 31, 2012 - 12:23PM

    GDP target and fiscal deficit is anticipated to deteriorate further under prevailing economic situation. Up coming debt repayments during the year would put more pressure on PAK rupee. Conversely, there is no major inflow (FDI) is expected other than any loan or aid which is always coupled with many underlying conditions to be met. GoP need to make a long term view on economy to stabilize its disparity between revenues and expenses otherwise major shocks like floods, law and order or any adverse political event could turn this economy is a bad shape. In addition to circular debt, trade imbalance and falling reserves, GoP should strive harder to welcome foreign inflows and should offer reasonable terms/conditions to investors willing to setup their businesses here conveniently. Moreover, 3G licenses is another avenue that could generate major inflow of foreign exchange. Undoubtedly, home remittances has shown significant growth and it is the only encouraging things happening to our economy.

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  • ishrat salim
    Nov 27, 2012 - 1:56PM

    My comment date is 27 Nov 12, & almost a month has passed, but unfortunately there seem to be only 2 people to comment on such a serious subject, which further exposes our experts / intellectuals or over-enthusiastic commentators to remain aloof on the above article.Our Country is going through its most difficult period in its history as per the above mentioned data presented by no less the Auditor General ( govt`s own selected person ) for the period from 2008 – 2012 further down the SBP / FBR reports…..so, gentlemen….what has democracy given to us & our poor people.There is a saying that ” numbers can be deceiving ” if so, may we volunteer to go & ask the poor people in the street, if they are better today than that what they were 4.5 yrs back ? I am no fan of past regime, yet as a Pakistani & above all a human being my heart bleeds when you seen people dying like insects, under the foot of the present economic hardship, religious intolerance & law & order situation….
    According to tax authorities – Pakistan informal economy is at 44 % of GDP….which means the amount of black / illegal money is in circulation, which is keeping our country afloat…
    So dear gentlemen, please legalize corruption as that has become bread for the majority of the poor….or wait for the ” doomsday “, when we all will be answerable to Allah swt for our part of the bargain…..

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