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Budget 2018: PML-N eyes next elections in sixth budget

By Web Desk
April 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Amid lingering controversy over the legality of federal budget 2018-19, the ruling PML-N government unveiled its sixth consecutive budget in the National Assembly at the twilight of its constitutional tenure.

Miftah Ismail, who was appointed as federal minister hours earlier, presented the budget proposals eyeing the forthcoming elections.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah criticized the government on presenting the budget for the next fiscal year.

He said that the present government can present the budget for only three or four months as it is going to complete its five-year term on May 30 and only the new government emerging from the Elections 2018 can present the budget for the whole year.

Later, Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi rejected Shah's reservations saying the government enjoys authority to present the budget. The PM also defended the appointment of Miftah Ismail as federal minister.

Despite government assurances, the opposition members staged walkout of the budget session.

The budget, which drew strong voices of disapproval from the opposition benches, will be an all-out effort to build a narrative for winning the next general election. All should be done but there is need to ensure that the policy of appeasement must not be executed at the cost of plunging the country into another trap of macroeconomic instability.

“Due to historic low interest rates, the business and industry has seen growth, and employment opportunities have been created,” Miftah said, while opposition lawmakers threw papers in the air.

Ismail said the budget deficit would hit 5.5 percent for the current fiscal year, missing the government’s fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent. He forecast the budget deficit at 4.9 percent of GDP in 2018/2019.

A government document put the total budget outlay for 2018/2019 at 5.9 trillion rupees ($51.06 billion).

“A VERY BIG SUCCESS”

Ismail said tax revenues reached 13.2 percent of GDP in 2017/2018, up from 10.1 percent in 2012/2013.

“This unusual increase in tax collection is a very big success,” Ismail said.

A budget document said total tax receipts would reach 4.2 trillion for 2017/2018 - barely missing the official target - and Ismail projected they would jump to 4.43 trillion rupees next fiscal year.

The government also set aside 1.1 trillion for the defense budget, increasing it by about 20 percent from the 920 million that the government had budgeted for the military to spend. Revised figures from a budget document suggest military spending will hit 1 trillion this year anyway.

Talking to Geo News, economic analysts Farhan Bukhari and Mohammad Sohail termed the budget as election-specific, which is aimed at giving relief to the masses.

The PML-N's focus on improving funding to social sectors  shows that the financial  team of PM Abbasi is moving in the right direction, Sohail added.

Growth/Fiscal Deficit

GDP growth in 2018/19 growth seen at 6.2 percent.

Finance minister Ismail said, “We have taken GDP to 5.8 percent. This progress we have made. We will not interrupt it, but the incoming government will have the right to modify the budget.”

2018/19 fiscal deficit seen at 4.9 percent of GDP.

Expenditure

Total expenditure for 2018/19 seen at 5.9 trillion rupees ($51 billion)

Taxation

Budget estimates tax revenue of 4.9 trillion rupees.

Minister Ismail said the government is using data mining and other technologies to track tax evaders.

Infrastructure

Government to spend on a large-scale desalination plant in Karachi city to end the city’s water woes.

Agriculture

Loans to the agriculture sector to increase.

Health

Package for children’s health announced.

Education

Government to pay for the transportation of female students to school. 

Highlights of PSDP

Following are the highlights of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19:

— Total outlay of the PSDP for the fiscal year 2018-19 is Rs2.043 trillion

— The federal PSDP is Rs1,030 billion whereas the provincial PSDP is Rs1013 billion

— Rs4,677.487 million allocated for Aviation Division

— Rs125 million allocated for Board of Investment

— Cabinet Division will receive Rs1,116.438 million

— Capital Administration and Development Division will get Rs15,236.924 million

— Rs 802.699 million allocated for Climate Change Division

— Rs1500 million allocated for Commerce Division

— Rs14480 million earmarked for Communication Division (other than NHA)

— Defence Division will get Rs 640.644 million while Defence Production Division to get Rs 2810 million

— Rs70 million set aside for Economic Affairs Division

— Rs 175.4 million earmarked for Establishment Division

— Rs 4336.5 million allocated for Federal Education and Professional Training Division

— Finance Division will get Rs18,151.4 million

— Rs199 million allocated for Foreign Affairs Division

— Rs 46,679 million allocated for Higher Education Commission

— Rs 5,433.1 million earmarked for Housing and Works Division

— Rs 300 million earmarked for Human Rights Division

— Rs 1775.2 million set aside for Industries and Production Division

— Information and Broadcasting Division will get Rs1,644 million

— Information Technology and Telecom Division will receive Rs3,046.3 million

— Inter Provincial Coordination Division will get Rs 3552.5 million

— Rs 24,207.8 million allocated for Interior Division

— Rs 51,205.8 million earmarked for Kashmir Affairs and Giligt-Baltistan Affairs Division

— Rs 1,025 million earmarked for Law and Justice Division

— Rs 10,118 million set aside for Maritime Affairs Division

— Rs 251 million allocated for Narcotics Control Division

— Rs 1808 million set aside for National Food Security and Research Division

— Rs 25,034.4 million allocated for National Health Services Regulation and Coordination Division

— National History and Literary Heritage Division will get Rs 550.5 million

— Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to get Rs 30,424.5 million

— Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority will receive Rs 300 million

— Petroleum Division will get Rs 943 million

— Rs 27,590 million allocated for Planning Development and Reform Division

— Rs 370 million allocated for Postal Services Division

— Rs 40,000 million earmarked for Railways Division

— Rs 36 million set aside for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Division

— Rs 2,558.9 million allocated for Revenue Division

— Rs 2,660 million earmarked for Science and Technological Division

— Rs 28,255.5 million set aside for States and Frontiers Regions Division

— Rs 200 million allocated for Statistics Division

— Rs 4,700 million set aside for SUPARCO

— Textile Industry Division to get Rs 280 million

— Water Resource Division will receive Rs79,500 million

— Government also allocated Rs 237,725 million for various corporations including Rs201,600 million for National Highways

Authority, Rs36125 million for NTDC/PEPCO

— Rs 5000 million has been earmarked for Prime Minister’s Global SDGs achievement programme

— Rs 5000 million allocated for Special Provision for Completion of CPEC Projects

— Rs 10,000 million earmarked for FATA 10 Years Plan (Federal Contribution)

— Rs 8,500 million set aside for ERRA

— Rs100,000 million allocated for Block Allocation for New Projects by next government

— Rs 45,000 million allocated for Relief and Rehabilitation of IDPs

— Rs 45,000 earmarked for Security Enhancement

— Rs10,000 million allocated for Prime Minister’s Youth Initiative

— Rs 5000 million set aside for Gas Infrastructure Development Cess.