Budget 2015-16: Govt eyes 5.5% GDP growth next year

The new budget boasts historically low interest rates and high infrastructure spending


Reuters June 05, 2015
PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The country will target growth next year of 5.5 percent when it unveils its 2015-16 budget today (Friday), with historically low interest rates and infrastructure spending expected to fuel the fastest expansion since the global financial crisis.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will present his blueprint for the next fiscal year (July-June) to parliament, and will also confirm that GDP growth in 2014-15 was 4.2 percent, short of the 5.1 percent target.

Read: Economic Survey 2014-15: Ishaq Dar touts economic growth amidst missed targets

The shortfall underlines the challenges the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces in meeting next year's forecasts, with daily power shortages curtailing industrial production and abysmally low tax collection.

Even if Pakistan does hit its target, it is short of what the country of more than 180 million people needs, economists said.

"Considering our population, to generate enough employment for a growing workforce our GDP (growth) should be around 7 percent plus," said Muzzammil Aslam of the think-tank Emerging Economics Research.

The government has not given official forecasts of spending and revenues next year, but economists said expenditure was likely to top 4 trillion rupees.

Dar said recently that Pakistan's fiscal deficit would fall to 4.3 percent of GDP in the next financial year compared with an original target of 4.9 percent in 2014/15.

He added the deficit could have been narrowed further in 2015-16, but for a major military operation against militants in tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border and the costs of accommodating thousands of people displaced by the violence.

Defence spending next year will be set at 772 billion rupees, including 45-50 billion for the operation, an increase of 10 percent over 2014/15.

One of the biggest challenges facing the government will be to broaden the tax base in a country where only about one in 200 citizens file income tax, leaving the state having to ask donors to fund crumbling schools and hospitals.

With many legislators, ministers and businessmen believed to evade taxes, mustering the political will to push through reform could prove difficult.

Read: Economic 2015-15 Survey: Tax exemptions eat up Rs665b in revenues

Nevertheless, Pakistan's Federal Board of Revenue has targeted a 19 percent increase in tax receipts to 3,100 billion rupees for 2015-16.

Imports of liquefied natural gas through a new port facility in Karachi should help make power supplies more reliable, although there have been teething problems at the terminal.

Infrastructure projects should be boosted by a $46 billion deal signed with China earlier this year to open up a road and energy corridor between the two countries.

Punjab govt requests two-day extension to present budget

The Punjab government has requested a two-day extension to present their budget, Express News reported.

According to reports, the Punjab government has asked for an extension as a result of the Punjab Finance Minister being replaced.

Furthermore, reports suggested that the budget has not yet been completed or printed.

COMMENTS (5)

H Chaudhry | 6 years ago | Reply @raider I dont know if they are thug or not! They are the ones who are elected by our people so as such you should have some shame and show respect. That said, being positive person and being mature is for your own sake so instead of being negative all the time and crying/whiing all the time. perphals seeing glass half full will help you. Get some education and understand how real life work and how it is impossible to fix issues over night and how a road map is needed etc etc. Go be productive instead of crying all the time.
sabahat | 6 years ago | Reply The only country in the world where the Prime Minister has a military secretary and three ADC. The British PM (the home of parliamentary system) does not enjoy such privilege, neither does the President of the U.S. .
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